Last month, I exhibited at the 2016 Biennial Movable Bridge Symposium (MBS), sponsored by Heavy Movable Structures, Inc. This is a refreshing and fairly unique conference and trade show. It's organized by a group of people and organizations involved with movable bridges; not sponsored by a trade association or a for-profit entity. It's a close-knit group that values the contribution of those of us making critical structures that facilitate the movement of people in their daily lives.At the MBS, I get the opportunity to spread the word about the benefits of FRP for bridge decks, sidewalks, and pier protection. Lightweight decking is the solution for many movable bridges. Until bridge owners (government agencies) include life cycle costs as a criterion in the procurement process, movable bridges needing lightweight is the niche for FRP vehicle bridge decking.
Each time I attend this symposium, I become aware of certain aspects of movable bridges that I had no idea were even an issue. This time, two items made a strong impression.
1. I learned more about counterweights on bridges. My favorite display, courtesy of Mayco Industries, showed different materials being used as counterweights for bascule bridges. The density of lead is very efficient - a quarter-sized lead coin weighs as much as 2” x 2” section of FRP decking (see above photo). Most of this lead now comes from recycled car batteries, so remember to return those old batteries.
2. I found the most interesting presentation to be on the Unionport bascule bridge in New York City. One look at a map of this bridge's environs shows the project's complexity. Four major roads converge into one bridge crossing! To make matters more complicated, the bridge is tightly nestled between two elevated highways. Not much room for construction access and movement, proving for an interesting bridge and presentation.
On the lighter side (humorous, not weight), we found that the old adage of location, location, location also applies to trade shows. Our exhibit booth was next to the symposium's nightly bar. While waiting in line for a refreshing drink, attendees could read about the benefits of FiberSPAN decks and FiberPILE large diameter pipe piles.