Research Activities: 2003

Design, Fabrication, and Testing of Low-Profile Composite Bypass Road Panel: Phase I




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Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)

Principal Investigator

Dr. Antonio Nanni
Jones Professor of Civil Engineering
University of Missouri-Rolla
224 Engineering Research Lab
Rolla, Missouri, 65401
p(573) 341-4497
f(573) 341-6215

Student Involvement

One graduate student

Project Objective

In the last few years, the availability of lightweight FRP sandwich panels, not only for bridge decks, but also for temporary bypass roadways, has been identified as a very interesting alternative to traditional methods of construction. For this reason, an investigation whose starting point is the mechanical characterization of a sandwich panel structure comprised of a FRF core was conducted. The determination of a sandwich mechanical properties as well as its performance under different load conditions provide part of the information necessary to decide whether the material is suitable or not for construction use.


Project Abstract

The objective of this research project was to demonstrate the feasibility of Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) systems for low -- profile bypass roadways, in particular, sandwich panels comprised of GFRP facings and an innovative Fiber Reinforced Foam (FRF) core. In order to investigate the performance of the sandwich construction, an experimental program including static and dynamic fatigue tests was performed. In particular, the static tests included two different characterizations: compression and flexure. The same type of specimens tested under static loading, were cyclically conditioned in order to analyze the behavior of the material and determine its residual strength. In both situations the specimens were conditioned to 500,000; 1,000,000; 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 cycles. The specimens utilized in the experimental program were collected from different sandwich panels with the purpose of verifying homogeneity in the mechanical properties of the material. The investigation focused on the ultimate bearing capacity and stiffness (compressive and flexural) of the sandwich structure, as well as its residual strength and rigidity after fatigue conditioning. The mechanical properties determined in this study constitute the base for a complement extension of this research: the development of a schematic solution for site implementation. This project may have significant repercussions in the construction and repair of existing structures.


Anticipated Benefits

The proposed project will provide MODOT with technical information necessary to determine the feasibility of using low-profile composite panels for the development of bypass roads. Detailed technical specifications and field application would be accomplished in Phase II, if deemed appropriate based on the results of this project.


Modal Orientation

Temporary By-pass Roadways


Project Start Date:

June 2002

Project End Date:December 2003

Relationship to other Research/Projects


Technology Transfer Activities

A final technical report and technical papers, training of a maintenance crew.

Transportation Research Board Keywords

By-pass Roadway, Deflection, Flexural Stiffness, GFRP, Sandwich Pan