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Re: FRP (plastic bridge)

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Actually FRP structural shapes have been around a long time.  The biggest deterrent is the cost.  Last time I checked a few years ago they were still 5 times as expensive as an equivalent steel beam.  I have never designed a bridge but have used them for high voltage trenches, cooling tower pump pits, and I saw several uses on the North Slope of Alaska.  You can only bolt them together so splices and moment connections are problematic.  The ones I have seen in service loose their color (seem to deteriorate?) and the ones I saw in Alaska seem to have experienced a creep effect as they appeared twisted and bent in strange ways.  For bridges I would also think that damage repair might be a problem.  From a design point I seem to remember that he FRP has a much lower modulus of elasticity so deflection could be an issue.  Could cause a bouncy effect for long span bridges (??).

Thomas Hunt, S.E.
ABS Consulting

"Jim Hamilton" <jhamilton(--nospam--at)>

06/03/2004 11:58 AM

Please respond to

"seaint" <seaint(--nospam--at)>
FRP (plastic bridge)

Has anyone had any experience designing FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) or
"plastic" bridges?  About three years ago I designed an experimental bridge
in Jacksonville, Illinois with a plastic bridge deck.  So far it appears to
be performing OK.  This was the first project in Illinois using this
material.  The cost was considerably more than a conventional concrete deck.
I have read several reports from other states.  IDOT engineers are not very
enthusiastic about this material because of high cost, but they are using
the initial project as a basis.  Does anyone out there have opinions on the
future of FRP or plastic bridge components?

Jim Hamilton
Hutchison Engineering, Inc
Ph: (217) 245-7164
Fax: (217) 243-0468

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