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Video | Fibre reinforced polymer bridge installed near Bristol

A fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) bridge was installed over the bank holiday weekend, on a road over the River Frome north of Bristol.

Atkins developed the design for the bridge – one of only a small number in the UK -  with South Gloucestershire Council and designer-manufacturer CTS Bridges.

It was prefabricated at the nearby National Composites Centre in Emersons Green, Bristol, and transported by lorry to the site at Frampton Cotterell, where it was installed.

The six-week project will be completed over the next week, with the road reopening in early September.

According to Atkins, FRP composites cost up to 25% less than their concrete and steel equivalents over their lifetime (see table below).

FRP table

James Henderson, senior consultant at Atkins, said: “The new bridge at Frampton Cotterell is at the forefront of an exciting new development in civil engineering techniques.

“The strength and lightweight nature of composites have allowed commercial aircraft to fly further, faster and more economically.

“Having gained this knowledge and expertise, we wanted to see where else the technology could be used to deliver similar benefits.

“Our initial idea was to look at bridge building, a form of engineering which has largely been using the same methods for centuries.

“The most attractive benefit of a composite bridge is that it would cost at least 50 per cent less to maintain than a concrete or steel structure over the course of its life.

“There are other added benefits too, such as the ease of creating bridges with more interesting designs, the ability to create longer spans between legs or other supporting structures and the fact that they will last longer before needing replacement.”

Tom Hitchings, director at the NCC, said: “The Frampton Cotterell bridge project has provided the opportunity to broaden our understanding of the construction industry needs and the potential for utilising advanced composites materials in that sector.”

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Readers' comments (3)

  • "Exciting new development" ? - I seem to recall the GRP Abefeldy Golf Club bridge being built in 1992....

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  • Mark Hansford

    You're not wrong Malcolm - but what's happened since? We're interested to know why it didn't catch on back then. Any clues?

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  • Mark, Two subsequent projects - Halgavor Bridge in Cornwall 2001 by Flint & Neill followed by another by AECOM in 2003 (Maunsell - Peter Head - were designers for the Abefeldy Bridge). Innovation needs to be encouraged.

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