Can Composite Bridge Technology Help with the Infrastructure Crunch?

26 May 2020All, Bluebeam, InfrastructureBridge, modular



The Bluebeam STRXUR article A Bridge to the Futurereminds us that the United States is very much in need of innovative and cost-effective bridges. As it ages, our infrastructure is crumbling all across the country—and that includes our ports, roads and airports. Bridges in particular, which are built to last but difficult to repair, get some excessive stress placed upon them as time goes on.  

Timothy Kenerson, AIT Bridges Senior Design Engineer, explained this predicament as being greatly impacted by time and the ever-present weight of traffic. “The national bridge inventory in the U.S. is about 615,000 bridges,” he said. “Roughly 62,000 bridges in the U.S. are no longer capable of carrying legal loads.” The bridges will continue to wear down as they get older, but automobiles will be as heavy as they ever were.

One solution to this problem is, of course, the construction of new bridges. At AIT, modular construction of bridges is the ingenious method of the day. The Bluebeam article mentions that composite bridge technology is a “scalable solution that could help create stronger, longer lasting bridges throughout the United States in construction projects both large and small.”

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3D model of arch bridge in grays and orange shades, infrastructure

After working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop bridges for army units, Kenerson realized that these lightweight and rapidly deployable bridge systems could be utilized for civilians as well. “Through the research at the [University of Maine],” he says, “we realized that this wasn’t just something that had military implications and applications.” People all over the world, whether they are in the military or not, have a need for accessible and reliable bridges.

As opposed to traditionally constructed bridges, modular bridges are built using fiber-reinforced polymers that are resilient, fatigue-resistant, and will not corrode like steel. As a result, modular bridges are subject to low maintenance over their lifespan—which Kenerson says is incredibly long. “Right now, I’d say the average age of a bridge in the United States is about 43 years old. They’re not getting any younger,” he says. “When you look at the full design life of our structures…you’re not going to have to touch this piece of infrastructure again for the next 100-125 years.” Considering accelerated building time, longer-lasting infrastructure and lighter materials, modular bridges appear to be a solution that our nation needs.

The AIT Bridges website describes the firm as an “engineering and manufacturing company that supplies advanced composite materials for bridges, while providing low cost solutions to the aging and deteriorating transportation infrastructure industry.” It is the leading provider of innovative composite bridge solutions, and on the website you can see a number of the company’s highlighted bridge projects

Bluebeam is always on the lookout for innovative technology that companies can put to use. If you’d like to explore first-hand the ways you can put Bluebeam Revu to work in your business, try Revu for yourself. You can download a full working version of Revu Standard, Revu CAD or Revu eXtreme on a 30-day free trial. When it’s time to convert that 30-day trial to a subscription or perpetual license, contact Applied Software and talk to a Bluebeam expert about your firm’s specific needs. Applied will help you champion innovation at your company.



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