GFRP-Balsa Sandwich Bridge Deck: Concept, Design, and Experimental Validation
The concept, design, and experimental validation of the new Avancon Bridge in Bex, Switzerland, are described. The lightweight glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) sandwich bridge deck adhesively bonded to steel girders, reduced the traffic disruption period by approximately 40days or 80% compared to a cast-in-place concrete bridge, and also enabled the bridge to be widened to two lanes. The semi-integral bridge concept allows the application of a continuous asphalt layer across the abutments without expansion joints and thus facilitates and reduces maintenance. The GFRP sandwich deck with structural balsa core fulfils all the requirements concerning serviceability, ultimate limit state, and fatigue. The bridge deck dimensions significantly depended on the selected and applied design recommendation. In the case of the Avancon Bridge, the German and British recommendations provided the most conservative sets of material factors, the Dutch recommendation specified the least conservative, with the Eurocomp recommendation lying somewhere in between. In particular, the selected material factor applied to stiffness influenced the deck composition and material consumption.