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Posted by Scott Reeve on Sep 8, 2022


The third installment of our Inspection Log Series takes us to the waterfront. During my East Coast trip, I was able to examine installations that included Creative Composites Group’s Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) fenders, dolphins, StormStrong pier pilings and sheet pile walls. Larger diameter StormStrong pilings are also used as dolphins. Some of these structures have been in use for more than 10 years, while others are just a year or two old.  

CCG’s FRP StormStrong pilings for fender systems are being adopted by state transportation agencies to replace outdated timber fenders at bridges. FRP fender systems offer superior protection to concrete bridge piers by meeting the higher energy absorption requirements of larger watercraft. Pilings are the “fence posts” that support the wales or “guard rails” in the fender system. Our StormStrong pilings have a high strength-to-weight ratio which makes them structurally efficient. They are corrosion-resistant and impervious to marine boring life. The eco-friendly material also doesn’t leak chemicals into the water. 

In 2014, we installed FRP fenders for the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Fall River, Massachusetts to replace damaged structures. Typically no one notices the fenders unless there’s a problem. They are difficult to observe because the water keeps one from getting too close. As part of our inspection, we used a drone which allowed us to see that our FRP fenders are doing their job.  

In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Transportation Highway sourced 10 FRP bridge fender sets using dolphins and pilings. I visited one of these New Jersey DOT bridges to observe these products in action.  Standard StormStrong pilings vary from 10 in. to 30 in. in diameter depending on energy requirements. Our larger 36-in. diameter pipe pilings with thicker walls are used as dolphins to prevent direct impact to bridge piers and act as a guide for wayward vessels moving along the fender in the main channel. We were able to get fairly close to our dolphins by using a drone. It did not appear that the dolphins had been struck by boats or ferries.  

Triborough Transit Authority sourced an FRP fender for Cross Bay Bridge in Brooklyn, New York. The fender was installed in 2020. That same year the Triborough Transit Authority installed an FRP fender on Marine Parkway Bridge. These are large fenders are used for boat traffic in Jamaica Bay.   

In 2019, the City of Lindenhurst [New York] installed a StormStrong sheet pile retaining wall. The neighborhood sits on a series of canals. FRP makes our sheet pile walls durable, long-lasting in corrosive environments and compatible with traditional construction equipment. In this case, our sheet pile retaining wall provided a robust solution for prevention of soil erosion that could undermine the bridge’s foundation.  

Waterfront infrastructure includes docks, piers, channel harbors and much more. It presents some unique challenges because it must be maintained in harsh marine environments. Saltwater, chemicals in water, constant wet and dry cycles, temperature variations and other factors contribute to the rate of decline of traditional materials. FRP offers a durable, resilient, carbon-friendly alternative that is low to no maintenance. 

Keep an eye out for our final blog in this series. We’ll provide a scorecard on the projects and products we inspected and the plans we have for the future. If you have a question or an idea for a project, call us. We’d love to talk with you about it.

Topics: waterfront infrastructure, FRP Composites, fenders, structural dolphin

Scott Reeve

AboutScott Reeve

Scott does Business Development for Creative Composites Group. For over 35 years, he has developed new applications using FRP composites; especially in the infrastructure sector. In 2005, he founded Composite Advantage, which is now part of CCG.

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