Local News

Space-Age Technology Tested On Chatham County Bridge Supports

Posted June 12, 2003 9:54 a.m. EDT

— Technology used to fix the space shuttle and to build stealth bombers is being used to shore up the Highway 64 bridge over the Haw River.

Lighter-colored portions of the bridge supports are covered with Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer or GFRP.

"It's safe, first and foremost. It's environmentally friendly, we're saving money -- not to mention we're saving a lot of construction time and traffic delays associated with them," said Rodger Rochelle, a research engineer with state Department of Transportation.

For example, the Hillsborough Street Bridge project in Raleigh will take at least two years and a portion of the street is blocked to traffic.

Using GFRP on the U.S. 64/Haw River bridge supports, the fix took two weeks and traffic never stopped flowing. The DOT said using the technology saved taxpayers $1.5 million on just this bridge alone.

GFRP is a glass fiber type fabric that is saturated with an epoxy resin. Before it hardens, it is wrapped around bridge columns.

Before the addition of GFRB, some of the bridge columns had exposed rebar and crumbling concrete.

The DOT said all the bridge columns will not need attention for 20 years.

Right now the DOT is testing its use and the federal government is footing the bill. It GFRP continues to save time, money and hassle, it will become DOT policy and North Carolina taxpayers will pick up the cost.