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Composite bridge decks face fatigue tests

A PROTOTYPE fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) replacement bridge deck is being prepared for a gruelling series of fatigue tests this summer, it was confirmed this week.

Composite structures specialist Maunsell has completed design work on the new deck, which is intended for reconstruction and new build applications.

US manufacturer Strongwell is tooling up to produce the 500mm wide by 115mm deep pultruded cellular glass-fibre reinforced polyester modules that will make up the test deck.

Maunsell project manager Will Duckett said the sections will be assembled into a 4m long by 2.1m wide deck supported on Maunsell's proven Advanced Composite Construction system trusses.

'Then it will be subjected to the very onerous rolling wheel pavement tester.

'A number of composite bridges have been built already, but none have been subjected to full highway loading. We need more information on the fatigue performance of composite elements in these conditions, ' Duckett added.

FRP decks could be used as direct replacements for corroding concrete decks supported on steel substructures if the steel still had plenty of residual life.

The lower weight of FRP decks would also make complete replacement of badly deteriorated structures easier as foundations could be re-used.

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