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Photo:  Pouring Concrete in FRP Reinforced Bridge Deck
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Innovative Bridge Design and Construction I
Bridge B-20-133 on US-151 With Fiber Reinforced Polymer Reinforced Concrete Deck

Research by
Dave Dieter, Adam Berg/
Prof. Lawrence Bank, Prof. Michael Oliva
& Prof. Jeff Russell
Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering

In this research project the use of a new combination of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite materials to reinforce bridge decks was investigated. In the course of the research laboratory tests were conducted in the Wisconsin Structures and Materials Testing Lab (WSMTL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) and a new bridge was constructed on US Highway 151 near the city of Waupun, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin utilizing the innovative FRP reinforcing system. During construction quality assurance tests were performed on the FRP materials to ensure compliance with the special provisions, which had been developed for this project in collaboration with Alfred Benesch and Company. Constructed adjacent to this innovative bridge was a nominally identical (except for ½ inch difference in deck thickness) steel reinforced bridge to serve as a basis for comparison.

Photo:  FRP Bridge Deck Reinforcing System MockupFRP reinforcement provides a corrosion free alternative to traditional steel reinforcing. Utilizing FRP reinforcing will lengthen the service life of the bridge deck by avoiding the destructive cycle of concrete cracking, followed by corrosion of reinforcing, which in turn worsens cracking. The FRP reinforcing system also made use of stay-in-place deck forms, which reduce labor costs, construction time, and increase construction safety. Once construction was complete, load testing was carried out in collaboration with the University of Missouri-Rolla. The purpose of this research was to demonstrate the use of an innovative non-metallic, cost-effective, FRP reinforcing system for concrete bridge decks to a new bridge in the State of Wisconsin.

During the design phase the UW conducted experiments to determine the physical and mechanical characteristics of the FRP materials while concurrently carrying out tests of full-scale prototype composite FRP reinforced slab and beam specimens in the laboratory. The concrete slab specimens were all 8" thick and ranged in plan area from 9'-0" X 8'-0" to 9'-0" X 11'-6". The 200,000 lb capacity MTS closed-loop, servo-hydraulic actuator in WSMTL provided loading to the concrete deck panels in a manner consistent with the typical bridge design vehicle. The beam specimens were also 8" thick and all were 3'-0" wide. They ranged in length from 10'-10" to 17'-4". The longer beams were simultaneously loaded using the same 200,000 lb capacity actuator that was used for the slab tests as well as the adjacent 55,000 lb capacity actuator in order to simulate multiple bridge spans being loaded simultaneously. Findings from the laboratory tests enabled the design and construction of the FRP reinforced bridge to move forward.

The UW also conducted construction phase monitoring including evaluating the FRP manufacturers' test results for compliance with the project specifications, conducting independent quality assurance tests on FRP materials, and keeping records of materials, labor, and equipment required to construct both the steel reinforced bridge deck and the FRP reinforced bridge deck so that a comparison could be made between the two. The six specific quality assurance tests carried out in the WSMTL were: Longitudinal Tension test, Longitudinal Short Beam Shear test, Fiber Volume Fraction test, Water Absorption test, Dimensional Tolerance test, and Measure of Aggregate Distribution on the FRP deck forms. Based on the construction observation it was found that the FRP reinforced bridge deck cost more than the steel reinforced bridge deck, however it was not far greater than the cost of other comparable bridges. Shortened construction time for the FRP reinforced bridge was also documented.

The major finding of this research was that the FRP reinforcing system was a viable option for new bridge construction, especially in situations where shortened construction time is important. The bridge was successfully constructed and is currently open to traffic.


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