Could it be possible to construct a bridge in two weeks that lasts up to 100 years, has similar costs as a regular steel and concrete bridge, and requires minimal maintenance? It may seem farfetched, but ASCE member and Founding Director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center Dr. Habib Dagher, invented and achieved that very thing with his award-winning composite arch bridge system, often known as the “Bridge-in-a-Backpack.”
Dagher will be recognized Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, for his groundbreaking innovation by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx at a White House ceremony honoring 11 of the nation’s top transportation innovators. Each year, the Champions of Change program recognizes Americans who are advancing transportation and leading change that benefits our nation’s transportation system.
The composite arch bridge system consists of inflatable tubes made of fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) that act as reinforcement for cast-in-place concrete. Once on site, the patented bridge technology can be erected and lifted into place without heavy equipment or large crews in a matter of days, as opposed to several months.
Construction costs for the “bridge-in-a-backpack” are comparable to those of a standard bridge. The technology is extremely durable, has a smaller carbon footprint than current bridge technologies, and is estimated to last two or three times longer than the typical 40-70 year lifespan of a concrete-and-steel bridge.
The University of Maine has licensed the bridge technology to private start-up company Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), who designs and builds these bridges. The composite arch bridge system was also approved by AASHTO, the first technology of its kind to be approved in the U.S. bridge design code.
To date, composite arch bridges have been installed by AIT in 18 locations around the nation and other countries.