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They Make Bridges Out Of Fiberglass

If the bridges in your county are deteriorating or were swept away by spring flooding, you might want to tell your local or state highway officials about this new alternative to conventional steel and concrete structures.
The first fiberglass bridge in the U.S. went up over No Name Creek near Russell, Kan., last Nov 8. Weighing just 24,000 lbs., the 22-ft. long by 27 ft.-wide span, complete with 36-in. guard rails, is built out of three panels of layered fiberglass. It consists of a 1/2-in. thick top layer, a 3/4-in. bottom layer and a 22-in. honey-comb middle layer. It's made up of 30 percent recycled materials.
"Nearly every state has 2,000 or more short span bridges and 80 percent of them need repairing or replacing," says Jerry Plunkett of Kansas Structural Composites Inc. (KSCI), the Russell, Kan., company pioneering the new concept.
"At this time, fiberglass bridges cost somewhat more than conventional ones but they'll become more price competitive as we refine manufacturing and production techniques," he says. "Because water and ice don't affect them, they'll last 50 to 100 years, compared with the 15 or 20-year life expectancy of a conventional bridge. They also require less time to put up so roads aren't closed as long. The No Name Creek bridge was installed with a crane in four hours, likely a U.S. record.
"They weigh five to 10 times less than conventional bridges, but laboratory test data shows that to cause a short-term, complete structural failure would require a load of 1 1/2 million pounds to be placed in the center of the span. That's the equivalent of 10 U.S. M1-A1 tanks being balanced on the structural mid-point, or 18 to 20 times more weight than a conventional bridge can handle."
Once the bridges go into full production, the company expects to be able to pro-duce a short span bridge for about $30,000 and to manufacture up to 10 bridges in an eight hour shift. The company is also looking at its composite fiberglass panels for possible use in portable buildings, domes, arch enclosures, piers, retaining walls, sound barriers, and other structures.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kansas Structural Composites Inc., 2649 E. Wichita, Russell, Kan. 67665 (ph 913 483-2589; fax 5321).


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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #3