A public bridge, built with a new composite decking system, officially opened with military precision recently when a 38-ton Sherman tank crossed the structure near Oxford, England.
It is Europe's first public highway bridge constructed with large prismatic profiles made from a glass-fiber-reinforced polyester called Asset. The profiles were developed by an international consortium with European Union aid.
The West Mill Bridge was built this year over the River Cole at Shrivenham, England. The profiles each measure about 10 feet by 71/2 feet. The bridge, which replaced a conventional structure, has a 33-foot span and is about 221/2 feet wide.
A total of 34 profiles were pre-bonded with epoxy adhesive, side by side in seven sections, to form the decking. The advanced-composite part of the structure weighs just 26,450 pounds, compared with the total bridge weight of some 81,500 pounds. Construction of the bridge took 16 weeks, the consortium said.
The partnership was led by engineering consultants Mouchel Consulting Ltd. of West Byfleet, England, and includes the project's pultrusion die and profile manufacturer Fiberline Composites A/S of Kolding, Denmark. Fiberline, a 20-year-old company, employs about 100 at plants in Kolding and Middelfart, Denmark.
The bridge's profiles resulted from a four-year, £2.9 million ($2.89 million) research project, which included £1.5 million ($1.5 million) in EU funding.
The bridge was built for Oxfordshire County Council's Shrivenham local authority. Peter Brown, OCC's head of bridges, said the council is ``convinced ... of the major potential this technology will have for large-asset owners like ourselves in terms of speed of installation, reduced whole-life costs and long-term durability.''