Upgrading An Existing Bridge Using GFRP Deck


Thousands of old concrete bridges in North America have exceeded their technical lifetime and become structurally deficient or functionally obsolete due to corrosion and deteriorated structural components. Replacement or rehabilitation of old structures can be costly. With strict design guidelines being in effect, a traditional steel deck bridge will end up being heavier and susceptible to environmental conditions such as corrosion and rust. A lightweight glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) deck is a sustainable and economically viable solution.

GFRPs are widely considered as the future of a number of industries including construction. Over the past few years, the use of GFRP has decreased cost, improved sustainability, and streamlined production of a large number of end-products, from construction to aerospace. GFRP rebar, for instance, is in high demand in the construction industry for its corrosion-resistant and lightweight properties.

The use of GFRP composites has incredible potential in bridge building. Lightweight properties and the possibility of pre-assembling enables structural engineers to complete a project quickly. A feasibility study was conducted on upgrading an existing steel-reinforced bridge by replacing the steel deck with lightweight GFRP deck. It demonstrated that a significant stress reduction can be obtained by upgrading an existing bridge with GFRP decks.

Steel bridge decks are heavy and provide poor durability. GFRP deck is a promising alternative for traditional steel bridges. Technical parameters of GFRP reinforcement material creates longer durability of bridge decks. A composite bridge deck also provides reduced maintenance costs over the service life of the bridge.

GFRP bridge decks have been thoroughly tested in field settings as well as in laboratories. Results show that GFRP bridge decks are high strength and sustainable structural components that have the tendency to meet the requirements of a rehabilitation application. Some people argue that the costs of GFRP products are higher than that of traditional materials. The facts seem to contradict this view. Considering the low construction and maintenance costs, longer service life, and the ability to resist corrosive environment, GFRP reinforcement is a cost-effective construction material.

The use of GFRP reinforcement is not limited to bridge applications. Following the improved properties of composite materials and development of design guidelines, GFRP rebar can be used in a number of civil engineering applications: mining and tunneling, Rail LRT, precast, retaining walls, bus stops, parking garages, and seawalls. Some of the distinguishing characteristics of GFRP rebar include high resistance to corrosion and oxidation, ability to form complex shapes, low density, and high mechanical properties.

About Tuf-Bar

TUF-BAR manufactures and sells the highest-quality GFRP fiberglass rebar in North America. Our products include fiberglass rebar, rock bolts, form ties, and anchors. We would love to discuss your rehabilitation or new projects and see how our products can help you build durable and maintenance-free concrete structures.