The overarching goal of this study was to perform a comprehensive evaluation of various issues related to the strength and serviceability of the FRP deck panels that are available in the industry. Specific objectives were to establish critical limit states to be considered in the design of FRP deck panel, to provide performance specifications to designers, and to develop evaluation techniques for the deck panels in service.

Two different FRP panels were studied during the research project: a sandwich panel and a pultruded panel. The sandwich panel was initially selected for the rehabilitation case study bridge. However, for a variety of reasons outside of the scope of this study, both the sandwich panel and the initial case study bridge were dropped from consideration. A new case study bridge was selected, and new proposals from FRP deck manufacturers were solicited. At that time, the pultruded deck was selected. Analysis and experimental results related to both FRP deck panels are included in this report, as information from both decks is relevant to the overarching goal of this study.

In November 2009, Sugar Creek Bridge became the first bridge in Indiana to be rehabilitated with an FRP bridge deck. An extensive study, including literature review, analysis, and load tests, suggest that the installed deck should perform well, with web buckling as the ultimate failure mode at a factor of safety of 5. Deflection limits, generally an issue with FRP decks, are satisfied with the installed deck. Meanwhile, some combination of acoustic emission methods, infrared thermography and a newly developed traveling truck deflection method show promise for non-destructive evaluation of the deck in-situ and identification of damage such as delamination of the wearing surface or web buckling. However, such methods have shown variability and could be prohibitively labor-intensive. Therefore, further evaluation is needed if such methods are to be pursued.

Report Number



Also FHWA/9979022


Bridge Decks, Fiber-reinforced Polymer, Non-destructive Evaluation, SPR-2943

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Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, Indiana

Date of this Version


Technical Summary.pdf (847 kB)
Technical Summary