This is not the time to play partisan politics with the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. It is time to focus on what needs to be done to ease the immediate suffering and plan for the re-construction of the Gulf Coast. Of all the images, I am amazed by the destroyed bridges and the impact their loss will have on the normal flow of people and supplies in the effected region.
The Civil Engineering Department at UW Madison has been doing research and testing on how to improve both bridge building and repair. Lead by Professor Larry Bank, the UW Research may very well come into play as the south re-constructs the transportation infrastructure, required to restore civil society between the creeks and streams of the coastal lowlands. The first step may be to stabilize any damaged small bridges.
Polymer Bandages May Give New Life to Old Bridges: Long polymer "bandages," designed so that troops could quickly repair or reinforce bridges to bear the weight of 113-ton military tank transport vehicles, now could be used to quickly and inexpensively strengthen aging rural bridges and concrete culverts around the country.After safe travel is established on the secondary roads, the next challenge will be to reconstruct major arterial bridges in the quickest amount of time. Utilizing prefabricated fiber reinforced polymer grids rather than manually tied traditional steel rebar could significantly reduce construction time.
To test the strips, county workers installed them on the decaying 1930s Stoughton Road bridge in Edgerton, Wis., in 2002. "It was really bad," says Tom Hartzell, Edgerton public works director. "There were some big cracks that went all the way through." …. The bridge was in such poor condition that rainwater and run-off poured through the cracks. … Total cost for strengthening the bridge was about $8,000.
Polymer grid technology a boon for bridges: When the long-awaited Highway 151 bypass around Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, opens later this year, vehicles traveling northbound will cross DeNeveu Creek on a bridge like no other in the country. Externally, the bridge looks identical to its adjacent twin. However, internally, the concrete deck reinforced with a novel fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) grid system that could replace conventional epoxy-coated reinforcing bars (rebars) inside future bridges.Innovation has always been a core strength of American culture, and the world may be surprised just how quickly we respond to and overcome the hardships blown our way.
Because it is non-metallic, the fiber-reinforced polymer material won't corrode, giving it the durability to last at least 75 years, says Bank. "Most bridge decks will only last somewhere between 30 and 40 years before they have to be replaced," he says. ... Bank's group designed prefabricated, three-dimensional FRP grids that cranes can rapidly lay into place, eliminating weeks of labor-intensive work. That means workers can pour concrete more quickly, speeding up bridge construction or deck replacement. "The idea is, if you have to do a deck replacement on a busy road like I-90, you want to do it as quickly as possible …" says Bank.