I attended the International Bridge Conference in Washington DC in June to present at the fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) workshop and educate attendees on FRP for Bridges in the exhibit booth sponsored by the American Composite Manufacturers Association (ACMA). Joint participation in a booth works well in many situations. Since FRP is still a ‘new’ material to most of the bridge industry, our activities are focused more on education than competitive sales. Sharing the cost among multiple companies provides a reasonable benefit/cost ratio. The ‘educational’ tone of the booth does bring in some visitors who sometimes hesitate to stop by for hard core sales pitches. Given the long sales cycle of bridge procurement (one to five years), this allows an easy introduction of FRP to engineers.
On display were all types of FRP bridge applications: decks, beams, pilings, rebar, grid and strengthening. I estimate that half the questions were about FRP rebar. This shows what the biggest issue is for owners. It also reflects the progress that has been made over the years to develop industry standards for FRP rebar (such as ACI) and the success of Canadian projects to make large scale use of FRP rebar.
ACMA hosted an FRP workshop for the 18th straight year at the conference. I presented on the FRP wind fairings that CA supplied for the Sarah Mildred Long bridge between Maine and New Hampshire. The fairings modify the wind flow over lift span and prevent resonance frequency issues. This is a unique application, but it demonstrates the versatility of FRP: ease of design, light weight and long long life.
The presentations were:
- Increasing Bridge Resilience and Resistance to Natural Disasters
- Overview of AASHTO Design Specifications for GFRP-RC Bridges
- Rehabilitation of East Lynn Lake Bridge, WV
- Beyond Halls River Bridge: FRP-RC/PC Infrastructure Solutions
- FRP Wind Fairings for the Lift Span on the Sarah M. Long Bridge
- New FRP Products for Repair of Bridge Piling and Corroded Culverts
If you are interested in copies of any presentations, please contact ACMA.
IBC moved to the DC area three years ago to improve attendance and provide easier access for engineers at federal agencies. There is a featured agency at each conference. In the first two years, this was District DOT and Virginia DOT. This boosts attendance by engineers and suppliers desiring conversations with these agencies. The featured agency this year was the Republic of China Transportation Agencies. Although these agencies with international awards for the longest bridges in the past few years, they offer little opportunity for most engineers and suppliers. That results in lower attendance. The struggle for many conferences is that DOTs and other procurement agencies do not have the funding for their engineers and managers to attend. Without the procuring owners at the conference, there is less motivation for companies and individuals in the supply chain to attend. We have to focus more on going to them than meeting in one place.