Guide published for FRP use in pedestrian bridges

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has published guide specifications for use of fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) in pedestrian bridges.

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA, Alexandrea, Va.) announced on Oct. 2 publication of the Guide Specifications for Design of FRP Pedestrian Bridges by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). According to the ACMA, whose Transportation Structures Council helped development the new publication, this first edition will encourage and enable engineers to specify fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) materials in a growing market segment.

"The approval of this first FRP specification for pedestrian bridges opens up the use of FRP to new infrastructure applications," says Dr. Eric Johansen, president of E.T. Techtonics Inc. and a member of ACMA, who was instrumental in drafting the initial document.  "The lightweight, maintenance-free nature of FRP and its ease and speed of installation could save the U.S. millions of dollars a year. It's important, too, because it now opens the door for the approval of other FRP specifications in critical infrastructure applications."

Over the past 20 years, the number of FRP composite pedestrian bridges has grown for both industrial and public uses where traditional bridge building has been more difficult. FRP composites have provided solutions, such as walkways and catwalks in urban settings as well as for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding and off-road vehicles. High-strength FRP materials, such as glass or carbon fiber reinforcements provide the bridge system with a strength-to-weight ratio greater than steel, offering significant design and erection advantages. For example, FRP structural profiles can be prefabricated offsite and transported in lightweight component assemblies to the site, saving considerable time and costs. Because FRP composite materials are inherently corrosion-resistant, many ongoing maintenance concerns posed by traditional materials are eliminated.

The new guide specifications, which apply to FRP composite bridges intended to carry primarily pedestrian and/or bicycle traffic, do not supersede the Guide Specifications for Design of Pedestrian Bridges. Instead, they provide specifications relating to the use of FRP composites for design loads and design details.

The Guide Specifications for Design of FRP Pedestrian Bridges, 1st Edition, 2008 (item code GSDFPB-1) is available for $20.00 for ASSHTO members; $24.00 for non-members. Visit for more information.