THE HIGHWAYS Agency has defended its decision to single out one composite bridge deck system for testing as part of plans to produce a new standard for composite highway bridges.
It is testing a new deck section developed by composite bridge pioneer Maunsell, ignoring a alternative design developed by a competitor Mouchel-led consortium which has undergone extensive, European funded development.
A 16 month, £275,000 Agency funded project at transport research body TRL will subject a pultruded glass fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) deck section developed by Maunsell to millions of fatigue cycles.
But Agency project sponsor Ben Sadka said he did not believe the TRL tests would give Maunsell any competitive advantage.
'Our work is always product neutral. The tests are designed to produce generic guidelines for engineers wishing to use FRP in bridges, which will be included in a draft standard to be published later this year.'
Mouchel's ASSET FRP system features a prismatic multi-cell section which can be glued or bolted together to form bridge decks then topped with a thin polymer concrete wearing course.
A 225mm deep by 520mm wide version is currently in production in Denmark, and Mouchel hopes to use it to replace the deck of the West Mill bridge in Oxfordshire later this year (NCE 6 September 2001) TRL senior research fellow Albert Daly admitted he had not heard of the ASSET programme when TRL began work on the project early last year. But Sadka said that the Agency would consider results from the ASSET programme, and would monitor progress on the West Mill bridge as well.