New Mexico bridge features Composite Advantage’s fiberglass decking

Composite Advantage fabricated 7-ft by 8-ft FRP panels for the structure’s overpass section.

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After the Piedra Lisa pedestrian bridge burned in 2013, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) decided to use Composite Advantage’s FiberSPAN bridge deck product. Now in service for nearly a year, Zann Jones, with the NMDOT bridge design bureau, said the fiberglass bridge deck is a big improvement over the original 30-year-old timber deck.

In addition to fast installation, NMDOT was attracted to FRP’s long life cycle and low maintenance costs. Composite Advantage also engineered panel dimensions to accommodate the structure’s unique specifications.

“Accessing the bridge itself dictated a long approach made up of seven landings and seven spans to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements,” said Scott Reeve, president of Composite Advantage. “FRP panels were used for the ramps themselves and covered with a non-slip surface. Fabricating these long panels helped further minimize the number of transitions pedestrians and individuals in wheelchairs had to negotiate.”

FRP panels 30-ft by 8-ft wide were used to span pier to pier at each end of the bridge’s approach. Composite Advantage fabricated 7-ft by 8-ft FRP panels for the structure’s overpass section. The bridge’s arched design meant panels couldn’t be inserted from above by crane. Instead, the construction crew used a forklift to pick up an FRP bridge deck panel, move it up the approach to the bridge opening where a handful of crew members would lift the panel, walk it onto PVC pipes and roll it into place. The deck’s custom beige color blends seamlessly with its glulam wood understructure and the scenic area’s surroundings.

“The old timber deck was becoming a maintenance problem with some of the timber deck members requiring replacement,” Jones said. “So far the FRP bridge deck has been maintenance-free.”

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