Research Activities: 2002


Preservation of Missouri Transportation Infrastructures: Validation of FRP Composite Technology through Field Testing - In-situ Load Testing of Bridges P-962, T-530, X-495, X-596 and Y-298 & Life Expectancy Modeling of FRP Strengthened Concrete Bridges



Complete                               View Reports:    PDF 1 and PDF 2

Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)

Principal Investigator

John J. Myers, P.E.
Assistant Professor
Missouri University of Science & Technology

325 Butler-Carlton Hall
Rolla, MO 65409-0030

Student Involvement

Two (2) PhD Students; Four (4) MS Students:
Year 1-2: one (1) PhD student and two (2) MS students are planned
Year 3-5: one (1) PhD student and two (2) MS students are planned


Project Objective

T he project objectives related to the structural aspect of this research program may be summarized as follows:

  • Design a retrofit scheme and strengthen five deficient bridges (in flexure) in Missouri.
  • Load test and characterize the bridges before and after strengthening by vehicular load testing over the five year time span of the project.
  • Develop specification and guidelines in the following areas:
    1. Materials
    2. Design (including safety factors)
    3. Installation
    4. Bridge Rating
    5. Inspection and Maintenance
    6. Selection Criteria for Candidate Bridges Including Cost Estimates
    7. Life Expectancy

Project Abstract

This research program proposes to MoDOT for the validation of the use of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials as a means to strengthen existing concrete bridges in their stock that are considered structurally deficient.

For over a decade, FRP laminates have been used worldwide to retrofit existing concrete bridges and buildings. Such retrofit has been carried out successfully to strengthen, repair or add ductility. Design guides for the use of FRP for such applications have been written recently in the US, Europe and Japan. However, despite all the well-documented benefits of using FRP materials for such application, including low cost, no traffic disruption, short time of works and anticipated long-term durability, validation of this technology for bridge-strengthening applications on a large scale is required.

This research proposal lays out the case for such validation to be conducted in Missouri under a joint MoDOT - University Transportation Center - Private Sector funding initiative, leading the way in the US in the area of innovative, cost-effective bridge rehabilitation. It is proposed that five existing concrete bridges, located in three districts in Missouri, be strengthened using FRP materials. These bridges will be instrumented and monitored biennially over five years.

The data, information and understanding from this validation project will be used extensively in the drafting of specifications to be written in AASHTO language for future FRP-related bridge-strengthening of concrete structures (buildings and bridges). The relevant information from such guides, together with that from a vast pool of mainstream publications, will be considered in light of the specific bridge-related specifications that are required on this project. It is foreseen that the resulting specifications will be used by MoDOT officials for understanding FRP materials, designing FRP-strengthening schemes, defining installation procedures, determining strengthened bridge ratings, and developing a robust monitoring and inspection regime.

Alongside such specifications, guidelines will also be written, documenting how bridges should be selected for various FRP-strengthening procedures, providing associated cost estimates of competing schemes, and predicting the life expectancy of strengthened bridges. Laboratory and field-testing work will be conducted, in order to assist in validation of both specifications and guidelines. This work will focus on non-destructive evaluation (NDE) techniques for application to FRP-strengthened bridges, a vital component in the successful monitoring of these bridges.

Load testing of all five strengthened bridges will also be carried out over five years, in order to verify that the FRP system is performing as expected. It is through such public validation of this novel and cost-effective strengthening strategy that the required design specifications, confidence and obvious benefits will emerge, placing Missouri at the forefront of such innovation in the US.

Anticipated Benefits

The overall goal of this research program is to make the technology of bridge strengthening with composites fully available to bridge owners and professionals. The program aims to provide sound and economical methods to help with the preservation of Missouri transportation infrastructure. The technology for strengthening existing concrete bridges using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials is well founded, with many international guides now having been written (ACI-440 Committee 2002; fib TG9.3 Committee 2001; JSCE Sub-Committee 1997), but transfer of this technology to bridge owners, in particular, needs to be conducted as a matter of urgency. This project is intended to expedite this activity in Missouri.

Another benefit of this project, translated into an operative mandate, will be the development of specifications in AASHTO language that cover all aspects of the strengthening process, starting from the assessment and evaluation of the candidate structure prior to strengthening, and finishing with its inspection and maintenance after strengthening is completed.

Through MoDOT coordination, AASHTO Technical Committee T-21 will be consulted with regard to the work being conducted by the Missouri S&T team. This will include holding periodic meetings with the committee, and providing technical assistance as requested by the committee, including yearly reports. The Missouri S&T team will also communicate on a regular basis with the composites industry and industry-sponsored organizations that are developing industry standards which would be compatible with AASHTO specifications, and with professional and trade organizations that are compiling syntheses of existing specifications.


Modal Orientation

Bridge assessment and performance


Project Start Date:06/01/2003
Project End Date:06/30/2008

Relationship to other Research/Projects

The research program will be complemented by the activities of Missouri S&T 's NSF-Industry Sponsored RB2C research center that does research related to composites technology related to the Infrastructure.

Technology Transfer Activities

To a ssist in technology transfer, the project deliverables include a final technical report and quarterly reports to the funding agency as well as specifications and guides in the following areas:

  1. Materials
  2. Design (including safety factors)
  3. Installation
  4. Bridge Rating
  5. Inspection and Maintenance
  6. Selection Criteria for Candidate Bridges Including Cost Estimates
  7. Life Expectancy

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Fiber reinforced polymer composite repair and strengthening; strengthening of deficient concrete bridges; guidelines on repair and retrofit of bridges; specification requirements for installation of FRP; specification requirements for inspection and maintenance of FRP repaired bridges; load rating of FRP strengthened bridges.