Evaluation of the in-service performance of the Tom's Creek Bridge fiber-reinforced polymer superstructure


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Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research


The Tom's Creek Bridge is a small-scale demonstration project involving the use of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite girders as the main load carrying members. It is a simply supported, short-span bridge located along Tom's Creek Road in Blacksburg, Virginia. As a result of discussions among Virginia Tech, Strongwell, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Town of Blacksburg, the existing deteriorated superstructure of the Tom's Creek Bridge was replaced with a glue-laminated timber deck on 8 in (20.3 cm) deep pultruded fiber-reinforced polymer beams. The project was intended to address two issues. First, by calculating bridge design parameters such as the dynamic load allowance, transverse wheel load distribution and deflections under service loading, the Tom's Creek Bridge will aid in modifying current AASHTO bridge design standards for use with FRP composite materials. Second, by evaluating the FRP girders after being exposed to controlled laboratory and service conditions, the project will begin to answer questions about the long-term performance of these advanced composite material beams when used in bridge design. A dynamic load allowance, IM, of 0.90 is recommended for the Tom's Creek Bridge. This value is the largest average IM observed and is therefore conservative. This value is significantly higher than those set forth in the AASHTO standards of 0.33 (AASHTO, 1998) and 0.30 (AASHTO, 1996). It is recommended to use a value of L/425 (LRFD Specification) or L/500 (Standard Specification). This value is consistent with AASHTO deflection control criteria for an all timber bridge. It is recommended to use the AASHTO wheel load distribution factors for a glulam timber deck on steel stringer bridge. There is no indication of loss of FRP girder ultimate strength after 15 months of service. Given the low service loads (no more than 10% of the ultimate capacity) and traffic volume the fatigue life prediction model suggests that fatigue will not be a major concern during the life of service (10 to 15 years).




W. D. Neely, T. E. Cousins, S. P. Phifer, J. L. Senne, S. W. Case, and J. J. Lesko. "Evaluation of the In-Service Performance of the Tom's Creek Bridge Fiber-reinforced Polymer Superstructure," Virginia Transportation Research Council 530 Edgemont Road Charlottesville, VA 22903, Report No. VTRC 04-CR5, Sept. 2003.