Construction of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Jackets for the Protection of Pier Caps

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CAIT project no.: RI RU6862

Fiscal Year: 2001/2002

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): P.N. Balaguru

External Author(s): Colin Franco, K. Wayne Lee

Sponsor(s): Rhode Island Department of Transportation, FHWA-USDOT


A fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite jacket was fabricated to protect the deteriorating reinforced concrete pier caps of the Silver Spring Cove Bridge in Rhode Island. The pier caps had undergone severe spalling and cracking and reinforcements were exposed in a number of locations.

Vacuum assisted impregnation technique that is used for the fabrication of aerospace structural components, was utilized for the fabrication of a composite jacket to cover the pier caps and stop further deterioration. Commonly referred to as “vacuum bagging” in the aerospace industry, this method is known to result in consistent high quality FRP laminates. This technique, rarely utilized in infrastructure applications, uses atmospheric pressure to remove air voids within the composite during lay-up and develops a strong bond between FRP layers. Excellent performance of fiberglass boats in marine environment for more than four decades provided the primary motivation for constructing fiberglass jackets to protect the pier caps.