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May 15, 2014

The case for aluminum in vehicular bridges

As many engineers know, aluminum is the ideal material for pedestrian and utility bridges.  Aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio, high corrosion resistance, and ultra-low maintenance comprise a powerful combination of advantages that other materials can’t match.  This blog has featured several Gator-built examples of these applications, including remote bridges for parks and utilities, office park bridges, and golf course bridges.

You may be surprised to learn that aluminum has “a track record of good performance in vehicular bridge applications dating back almost 80 years,” according to a report published by the Aluminum Association of Canada (AAC).

The 2012 report lives up to its title:  “Opportunities for the use of Aluminum in Vehicular Bridge Construction.”   It starts with this eye-opening fact:  600,000 U.S. bridges need upgrading, and about 25% of these have been deemed to be either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”

According to the AAC report, in new bridge construction or retrofitting existing bridges, aluminum is well suited for deck replacement, deck widening, railings, sidewalks, bike paths, light poles, and sign support structures.  In highly corrosive environments, aluminum’s life-cycle cost advantages also come into play for longitudinal girders, diaphragms, and cross bracing.

Read ACC‘s report for in-depth insights into the advantages of aluminum, code requirements, modern bridge applications, and design considerations.    Another excellent source:  “Engineering and Designing Aluminum Structural Solutions,” an interview by the Canadian International Aluminum Conference with Alexandre de la Chevrotière, CEO of MAADI Group and co-author of the AAC report.  He cites a study showing that “decision makers can no longer assume that steel is always the best option economically when investing in civil engineering structures.”

Keep GatorBridge andCMI  in mind for any bridge or roadway project involving railings, pedestrian overpasses, and walkways. For decades, GatorBridge has supplied hundreds of miles of railing to contractors of state governments, municipalities, and other organizations for projects. In fact, Gator rail designs have been pre-approved by several states as meeting their standards.  In addition to standard DOT-approved designs, we make custom designs as well.

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