Researchers from West Virginia University and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division were awarded an Engineering Excellence Award for their work on a Huntington-area bridge.

Corrosion had severely damaged piles and weakened the utility of the 40-year-old East Fork Bridge which links State Route 37 to a popular recreation site. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration, composite science experts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center partnered to investigate and identify materials, including reinforced fibers and resins, which could be used to develop long-lasting, lower-cost repairs to the bridge.

The East Fork Bridge Rehabilitation Project bested six other projects to clinch the award, which recognizes excellence in sustainability, design, construction and innovation throughout the division’s area of operations.

Using glass fiber reinforced polymer composites and self-consolidating concrete, the Constructed Facilities Center team was able to install jackets and wraps to steel-H piles. According to Hota GangaRao, director of the Center, the main advantages to using composite materials are time and cost. The project team was able to complete its initial work in three weeks at a cost about 75 percent less than conventional construction

Following the rehabilitation, the bridge was tested using calibrated truck loads.

“Through fielding testing of the East Fork Bridge before and after rehabilitation, the CFC has shown that the majority of our nation’s bridges can be fixed rapidly and safely at a fraction of replacement costs with minimal traffic interruptions,” said GangaRao.

“This award highlights the ability of faculty and students working as part of the CFC to transfer state-of-the art research to practice,” said P.V. Vijay, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at WVU. “It also showcases successful team work and coordination between faculty, students, industry and end-users. Being able to involve students in the design and use of next generation FRP materials was an important element of this project.”

“It really was a group effort among the engineers and tradesmen throughout USACE, professors and graduate researchers with West Virginia University and the grant-making agencies that made this innovation possible,” said John Clarkson, a member of the project team from the Huntington District. “This project afforded USACE the opportunity to fix the bridge at one third the cost of traditional methods and we funded research and development that can now be applied to other civil works projects around the world. It pays to partner.”

Joining GangaRao and Vijay on the team from WVU were Mark Skidmore and Udaya Halabe from civil and environmental engineering and Ray Liang from chemical engineering.



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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