Fiberglass Rods Support Pultruded Bridges

by Tencom Ltd.

Fiberglass Rods Used to Create Pultruded Bridges

Construction and infrastructure go hand-in-hand when it comes to incorporating Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites. 

Added to make buildings and structures more stable and longer-lasting, FRP composite materials are increasingly used in building applications across the United States.

More recently, fiberglass bridges have been fabricated for the Mid State Trail Association in Pennsylvania.

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Replacing the old swinging bridges made out of wood, fiberglass bridges will now offer safe passage for all pedestrians who enjoy taking a stroll through the parks and trails.

Replacing Wooden Bridges

For years, the hiking paths under the supervision of the Mid State Trail Association have had wooden swinging bridges for folks to walk across rivers and creeks.

While these wooden structures have quite a bit of old-world charm, they are highly susceptible to rot and decay. Due to severe deterioration over time, these bridges needed to be replaced.

In an attempt to cut down on the cost of maintenance and make the hiking trails safer for visitors, the Mid State Trail Association decided to implement fiberglass bridges as replacements for the old wooden ones.

A new fiberglass bridge – measuring 85-ft long and 4-ft wide – was put into place over Yellow Creek in Loysburg, PA.

This particular bridge is made up of pultruded products that act as structural supports. It was prefabricated and transported to the location in three parts for quick and easy installation. Within a few hours, the bridge was assembled and ready to receive hikers.

Because it is made of fiberglass, it is incredibly lightweight and strong. Its ability to withstand the elements also means that it is resistant to corrosion. The result is little to no maintenance and a much longer lifespan.

The Mid State Trail Association

As the longest hiking trail in the state of Pennsylvania, the Mid State Trail Association is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the trail.

The trail – extending from border to border – reaches Maryland on one end and New York on the other. Furthermore, other trails also cross paths with MST including ones from as far away as Alabama.

This nature-laden pathway provides a safe route for adventurers to trek. Working with the Bureau of Forestry, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Mid State Trail Association focuses on ensuring safe passage for all visitors.

Policies and Regulations

Because FRP composites are fairly new, there aren’t very many regulations in place yet. However, the American Society of Engineers, the Pultrusion Industry Council, and the American Composite Manufacturers Association have been working tirelessly over the last decade to implement new policies that include building with FRP composites.

They have even agreed upon an endorsement for a standard design for pultruded profiles. This is meant to bring FRP composites onto the same playing field as other standard building materials such as wood, concrete, aluminum, and steel.

In 2016, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure issued a report pertaining to the use of FRP composites in hydraulic structures. This report came to the conclusion that FRP composite bridges require fewer repairs and are more cost-efficient in the long run.

Then, in 2018, the United States Army Corps of Engineers published a series of best practice guidelines for building hydraulic bridges with FRP composite reinforcements.

The guidelines specified in both publications enable contractors and companies to incorporate FRP composites more efficiently in waterfront structures.

Replacing Traditional Materials

In 2019, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association reported that there are currently 47,000 at-risk bridges being used across the United States.

Out of 614,400 bridges around the country, over 245,000 of them have exceeded their 50-year estimated lifespan. This concern spans far beyond a few footbridges on hiking trails. If left unattended, these old bridges could collapse, causing excessive damages, injuries, and risks to public users.

FRP composites provide an efficient, easy, and cost-effective fix for this potential hazard. Lighter and stronger than both steel and concrete, pultruded products can last up to 80 years with little to no maintenance.

FRP composite materials are also resistant to moisture, heat, impact, insect damage, and prolonged sun exposure. This means that there will be no need to worry about rust, corrosion, melting, or any other type of typical damage that wood, steel, and concrete usually incur.

Since FRP composites go through a process known as pultrusion, they can be customized to suit a wide range of project needs. For bridges, this is especially important.

Whether fiberglass or carbon fiber is used, rods, poles, beams, and other structural supports can be customized to fit into a specific geometric design for any type of bridge.

Fiberglass Products at Tencom

Our experts here at Tencom are able to create a wide range of pultruded products. Although we specialize in fiberglass and specialty resins, we can do carbon fiber applications as well.

Our fiberglass rods are created by using polyester, vinyl ester, urethane, and epoxy materials during the pultrusion process.

First, the fiber rovings are pulled through a liquid resin bath. Then, they are pushed into a heated die and cured. Once they have fully hardened, they go through the cutting process.

You can customize your fiberglass rods to measure anywhere from 100-ft to 2,000-ft in length with diameters ranging from 3/16-inch. 1/4-inch, 5/16-inch, and 3/8-inch. We can even add pigments to the mix for colors and designs.

Tencom can make a fiberglass conductor rod as well. This is done by adding fish tape, guy wire, a fabric frame, and a cable strength core.

In general, it takes about 3 to 4 weeks to complete a production run for custom fiberglass rods. The result is high-quality, long-lasting pultruded products that will take your bridge-building project to the next level.

To learn more about our other FRP composite products, get in touch with our experts today.

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