Innovative Fiberglass Girders will Extend Bridge Life

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center developed innovative fiberglass girders in partnership with Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT). The Grist Mill Bridge in Hampden, Maine is the first bridge in America to use these girders with no concrete reinforcement in the superstructure. These fiberglass girders are expected to increase the bridge’s lifespan by an additional 100 years.

UMaine and AIT developed these fiberglass girders with the intention of reducing material and construction costs. The girders are approximately 35% lighter than steel and concrete counterparts and require less intensive installation equipment. The reduced weight and stackability of the girders means multiple units can be shipped together whereas each concrete girder would require an individual flatbed for transportation. Installation took a total of two days. Built with numerous strain sensors, the bridge was tested with more than 260,000 pounds to gather baseline data. Further monitoring tests will be undertaken to assess shear strength, the girder-slab connector strength, and creep of the girders over time to provide insight to potential future improvements.

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