Journal article

Long-term performance of a glass fiber-reinforced polymer truss bridge

In the summer of 2005, after eight years of use as a temporary bridge during the winter, the Pontresina Bridge for pedestrians was transported to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne for a detailed assessment of the structural safety, serviceability, and long-term durability of the bridge. The assessment included a visual inspection, quasistatic testing identical to that performed in 1997, and detailed investigations of material degradation. The visual inspection showed a variety of different local defects and damage such as local crushing caused by impact, local cracks due to inappropriate storage and lifting of the structure, fiber blooming, degradation of cut surfaces, and damage due to vandalism. Comparisons between load tests performed in 1997 and 2005 showed, however, that the structural safety and serviceability of the bridge have not been affected by these local damages. The stiffness of the pultruded shapes remained unchanged, whereas a slight decrease in strength between 13 and 18% was measured, which, however, is not critical when taking into consideration the high effective safety factors. In view of a further service period of 5 years until the next inspection, the visible damages were repaired. This experience showed that the durability is primarily affected by inappropriate constructive detailing and that pultruded glass fiber-reinforced polymer shapes, if correctly manufactured and processed, can offer good long- term performance and durability. © 2007 ASCE.


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