NCHRP Report 503, Application of Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites to the Highway Infrastructure, contains the findings of a study to develop a strategic plan for guiding the application of fiber reinforced polymer composites in the highway infrastructure. The report describes the research effort and presents the strategic plan.
Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials show great potential for integration into the highway infrastructure. Typically, these materials have long and useful lives; are lightweight and easy to construct; provide excellent strength-to-weight characteristics; and can be fabricated for "made-to-order" strength, stiffness, geometry, and other properties. FRP composite materials may be the most cost-effective solution for repair, rehabilitation, and construction of portions of the highway infrastructure. They can strengthen bridges without reduction of vertical clearance, and they can be applied in severe exposure environments that may have resulted in the deterioration of the original structure. FRP composite decks may be used to extend the life of girder-system bridges because their low dead weight allows for an increase in live-load carrying capacity.
Despite these beneficial characteristics, widespread application of FRP composites to the highway infrastructure has been slow and uneven. Although much research has been conducted on the application of FRP composites to the highway infrastructure, only a small portion has resulted in actual applications in roadway systems. The objective of NCHRP Project 4-27 was to develop a comprehensive and balanced strategic plan for guiding the implementation of FRP composite materials in the highway infrastructure. This objective has been accomplished with a strategic plan containing 11 prioritized elements. The plan is supplemented by white papers describing the state of the art of seven applications of FRP composite materials. Action plans for successfully implementing the applications are also provided. The strategic plan and white papers provide a road map for the development of FRP specifications for bridges and other highway applications.