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An Innovative Method to Fix Bridges in Essex County

Blog post   •   Jan 10, 2017 04:23 EST

Structurally Deficient Bridges in New Jersey

According to the Federal Highway Administration statistics, 34.5% of New Jersey’s 6,686 bridges were structurally deficient in 2015.

New Jersey is one of the most heavily populated states in the U.S., having some of the oldest bridges in the nation, and hence, necessitating more extensive work for maintenance.

Testing Avant-Garde Material for Future Concrete Projects

University of Windsor’s civil engineering professor, Sreekanta Das along with a research team of graduate students, is on a mission to test an avant-garde construction material in the real world. For this reason, they have partnered with the County of Essex and MEDA Engineering and Technical Services. The aim of this collective effort is to provide New Jersey, an economical and greener solution to future concrete rehabilitation projects. However, in the initial stage, artificially damaged concrete beams were erected in a laboratory setting to experiment a new basalt composite material at the University.

See also the news earlier this year: River Canard bridge to undergo $500,000 rehabilitation

Basalt-based Fiber Mesh – The Cheaper and Stronger Material for Bridge Repairs

The Merrick Creek Bridge in Amherstburg modeled as an ideal opportunity for Das and U of W graduate students to acquire the data that they have been gathering in the laboratory and apply it in a practical application.

The bridge is built with T-beam concrete pre-stressed girders on County Road 8, and being improved and strengthened using a Basalt-based fiber mesh wrapped around spot repairs.

According to MEDA president, David Lawn, basalt-based fiber mesh is cheaper and stronger than the carbon fiber-based material that was previously used for fixing concrete-clad spans. Moreover, basalt is a commonly occurring volcanic rock, which will hopefully last forever in the world.

Minimizing Bridge Repairs

According to Peter Bziuk (engineer and Essex County’s manager of design and construction services), this bridge project will regularly be supervised. He and Sreekanta Das are of the view that basalt-based fiber mesh would toughen those bridge areas where it’s applied. This, in turn, would maximize the time period for further bridge repairs.

The county has saved up to $25,000 since the university and MEDA have undertaken a part of regular bridge rehabilitation work.

Strengthening Concrete Bridges with the Help of Basalt

Bridges deteriorate due to many reasons including environmental factors, vehicle collision and design and construction errors. To strengthen the bridges, basalt-based fiber mesh is advancing as a revolutionary material due to its excellent stiffness and strength-to-weight-ratios and easy to install quality. No doubt, basalt concrete structures can endure a lot of stress deformation.

The Process:

In order to form the compound, the basalt rock is liquefied at an inflated temperature, tug into prolonged fiber strands and then knitted into a fabric. Implanted in an epoxy, it’s enveloped around the fixed areas where the concrete is cracked due to rusting steel reinforcement bars.

Final Thoughts

If U of W’s professor and graduate students are successful in proving basalt-based fiber mesh as a cheaper and greener solution to future concrete rehabilitation projects, this three-way collaboration among The University of Windsor, MEDA Engineering and The County of Essex will be looked upon as one of the most successful moves this year for New Jersey. Furthermore, the number of New Jersey’s structurally deficient bridges will be reduced. Also, the success of this bridge project may slash the idea of a higher gasoline tax.

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