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bridge test

Photo: Lab testing of FRP reinforced concrete slab

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Use of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Reinforcement Cage in Concrete Bridge Decking

Research by
David A. Jacobson, Jr. & Mack Conachen/
Prof. Lawrence Bank, Prof. Michael Oliva
& Prof. Jeff Russell
Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering

The deteriorating condition of bridges and other infrastructure facilities is recognized by highway agencies as one of the most complex problems in transportation infrastructure. As a result, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is seeking innovative and cost-effective technologies to retrofit and rehabilitate many of the State's bridges. Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are becoming increasingly accepted as viable materials for use in highway bridge construction due to their high strength and stiffness to weight ratio and corrosion resistance. Bridge decking is one promising application for FRP composites, as it is expected to reduce construction times, bridge maintenance, and overall life-cycle costs of bridges.

Research at the University of Wisconsin Madison is being conducted to investigate the use of an innovative, modular three-dimensional FRP pultruded grid reinforcement system to construct a concrete bridge deck on a major bridge structure. The project is part of a new bridge structure on US Highway 151 over De Neveu Creek, near the Wisconsin city of Fond du Lac. The two lane northbound bridge, utilizes the FRP reinforcement system, and has a single 130-foot span with a width of roughly 45 feet. For purpose of comparison, the bridge?s southbound counterpart has been constructed with a conventional steel reinforced deck.

Recently, the UW has developed an efficient and structurally adequate FRP Placement of super-sized grids with the use of a cranreinforcement cage design for research purposes. The following items have been investigated: strength and stiffness of the FRP reinforced deck in flexure under simulated wheel loads, fatigue behavior and residual strength during/after simulated cyclic wheel loading, failure modes from fatigue and static loadings, and the general constructibility/performance of a FRP deck reinforcement system.

With these tests complete the Wisconsin Department of Transportation accepted the FRP system for use in the Fond du Lac bridge. The University of Wisconsin provided a quality assurance program to provide a secondary verification of the material properties used in the design of the bridge. The UW also preformed a constructibility analysis of the bridge that included, site observation and cost analysis of the project. This was done in order to determine if the savings in field labor offset the extra cost of the material.

Photo: Placement of super-sized grids
with the use of a crane

Additionally, a load test of the bridges was preformed in conjunction with the University of Missouri Rolla. This testing was to provide a benchmark for future performance testing of the bridge by the University of Marquette.

FRP bridge

Photo: View of FRP bridge during the load testing conducted by University of Wisconsin and University of Missouri

The implementation of FRP in Wisconsin bridge structures is in its infancy; UW research is aimed at fostering its growth as a feasible and possibly advantageous alternative to traditional bridge construction materials. Lessons learned from this project could lead to further use of this innovative system in other bridges throughout the state.

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