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Russian Company Considering UMaine Bridge Technology for 2014 Olympics

Contact: Habib Dagher, (207) 581-2138
Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — The University of Maine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center and private company Advanced Infrastructure Technologies LLC (AIT) are talking with a Russian company about exporting UMaine’s Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM technology to Russia for use in preparation for increased traffic related to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Representatives of Noviy Proekt, the Russian company coordinating the $1.5 billion construction effort at the Olympic sites, will join UMaine and AIT officials on Friday morning at 11 a.m. at UMaine’s AEWC Center to describe their discussions and provide details about a potential deal.  Following brief remarks, news reporters will have opportunities to interview representatives from each organization, and to see demonstrations of how the bridge technology works.

The Russian company is also considering the technology for use in railroad bridge construction and other public infrastructure construction in Russia and neighboring countries.

Advanced Structures and Composites Center Director Habib Dagher and AIT President and CEO Brit Svoboda will host the Russian delegation, which includes the strategic development director of Noviy Proekt and heads of bridge engineering and railway development for the Russian Railway. They will be joined during Friday’s announcement by officials from UMaine; Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau from the Federal Highway Administration, who will travel from Washington D.C.; Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Cole and MDOT engineers; and representatives from Maine’s congressional delegation.

The Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM, an innovative inflatable composite-concrete arch bridge, was developed at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. This composite bridge system can reduce construction time and costs, potentially double the lifespan of bridges, reduce maintenance costs, and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of bridge construction. Six bridges have already been built in Maine using the center’s technology and more are planned across the country.

Advanced Infrastructure Technologies, founded by Bangor native Svoboda, is an Orono-based firm that has raised private financing and licensed the UMaine bridge technology. AIT hired engineers in Maine to design the bridges, and is manufacturing these bridges in partnership with the Kenway Corporation of Augusta.

“AIT is pleased and excited to welcome our guests from Russia,” Svoboda says. “It has been the goal of AIT to not only advance this Maine technology throughout the United States but to share this innovative and transformative technology globally.  We continue to work closely with the USDOT, Federal Highway, state departments of transportation, counties and municipalities throughout the states and we are making inroads with our product.  The response to this product has been at times almost overwhelming with calls and emails from around the U.S. as well as countries from almost every continent. This potential relationship with Russia fits perfectly in our marketing plan for  ‘Technologies Bridging Nations’ starting in the U.S. then bridging to other nations.”

As part of the potential deal with Russia, AIT would provide design and engineering expertise, manufacture the elements of the bridges in Maine in partnership with other Maine companies, and export the bridge kits to Russia for construction at the Winter Olympics sites.

“This would provide a wonderful opportunity for creating Maine jobs, and a historic opportunity to contribute to the success of the Winter Olympic games,” Dagher says. “We are honored that Noviy Proekt is considering a UMaine-developed technology for the Winter Olympics construction.”

Noviy Proekt LLC is a diversified company engaged in the development and implementation of innovative projects in the areas of construction, complex rail systems and power transmission. A leading developer of Olympic sites and transportation infrastructure, Noviy Proekt is interested in the composite arch bridge system because it would bring cutting-edge technology to the Winter Olympic sites.

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