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11/16/2010 | 1 MINUTE READ

Seventh, largest bridge in a backpack constructed in Maine

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The University of Maine's carbon fiber composites-based bridge technology system has been used by licensee Advanced Infrastructure Technologies to build a bridge with a 50-ft/15.2m span in Belfast, Maine.

The Boston Globe reported on Nov. 15 that the "bridge in a backpack," developed by the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine (Orono, Maine), has been used by licensee Advanced Infrastructure Technologies to build the seventh and largest such composites-based bridge to date, in Belfast, Maine.

The bridge in a backpack system uses a series of carbon fiber tubes, each about 8 inches/203 mm in diameter, infused with resin and cured to an arc shape. The tubes are placed alongside each other straddling the river or road and then filled with concrete to provide rigidity. See link at right, "Bridge cost cut with inflatable arches," for full story on technology

The Belfast bridge, says the Globe report, spans 50 ft/15.2m and is the largest to incorporate the carbon fiber design. All bridges built to date are in Maine.
Brit Svoboda, chief executive of Advanced Infrastructure Technologies, which licensed the technology from the university, said he hopes to see 30 to 40 such bridges built next year, including one in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has awarded the company a contract to design a bridge in Fitchburg.

The reports says Maine spends $110 million annually for bridge rehabilitation. Initial cost of the bridge system, according to the report, has been slightly higher than for standard bridges. Habib Dagher, director of the composites center at UMaine, told the newspaper the new bridge system could soon bring substantial savings to highway departments as more bridges are constructed and volume increases.

Information: Click here for the full report in The Boston Globe.

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