The International Bridge Conference concludes today with positive reviews. At the top of my list is the new location - Washington DC's National Harbor - which brought in lots of new faces from the East Coast. Travel budget restrictions make attendance difficult for many agencies, but this year we had more representation at educational sessions and the exhibit booths from locals like the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), and the U.S. Department of Transportation. More engineering design firms exhibited too, since most have offices in the Baltimore-DC-Richmond corridor. Another improvement? A new schedule ensured that all attendees had ample time to visit the exhibit booths without sacrificing time at educational sessions. This makes those of us displaying products and services very happy.
I was part of our trade association’s exhibit booth. Joining forces under the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) banner gave participating companies (like Composite Advantage) access to a more desirable booth space - a double booth, in fact, near the entrance. Even better, our booth was on the path to the concessions and bar.
The ACMA booth primarily displayed pedestrian bridge decks, vehicle bridge decks, FRP rebar and strengthening materials. These tend not to be the most exciting thing to grab a passerby, so we set up a simple experiment. One of our members put a section of steel rebar in a glass of salt water and a section of fiberglass rebar in another glass of salt water. Visitors could see the water with the steel turning browner by the hour. (See the photo below for proof). It was so simple, we all wished we'd thought of it earlier. What a great way to see the superiority of FRP for corrosion resistance.
For the 16th consecutive year, John Busel of ACMA organized a workshop highlighting five FRP bridge topics. This was our best-attended workshop in years. The session was standing room only and we were thrilled to see the new and enthusiastic faces.
The conference also gave us FRP manufacturers and suppliers a chance to meet with each other. The Transportation Structures (Infrastructure Products) Council met to discuss ways to promote FRP technology. Our plan includes:
- More case studies on compositesinfrastructure.org
- A traveling educational roadshow
- Promoting standards
- Supporting the technology review under the recent FAST Act
All of this continues to educate and familiarize people with the many benefits that FRP offers to the infrastructure world.
Were you there? Let us know what you thought of the 2016 International Bridge Conference.