Media report on celebration of DOT grant for Composites Center

The Bangor Daily News, News Center Maine, WABI (Channel 5), WVII (Channel 7), MainebizConstruction Dive and For Construction Pros reported on the Aug. 8 testing of a bridge and celebration of a $14.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve transportation in Maine at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. UMaine is leading a group of six New England universities on a project by the new Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center to develop building materials to reduce the need for expensive repairs, the BDN reports. “I am so proud that UMaine led the coalition that won this highly competitive competition. Especially, I know I shouldn’t say this but I have to: We beat MIT,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins told WVII. Collins presented the first installment of the funding, according to News Center Maine. “Our transportation infrastructure truly is crumbling and if we can come up with ways to rebuild it more quickly, more securely, and have it last longer and cost less that is a winning formula,” she told WABI. Collins helped secure the grant by working with the Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, WVII reported. MIT has won the grant for the past 20 years; this is the first time UMaine has received the funding. The composite bridge girders, developed at UMaine and made with 3-D printers, can support a bridge for as long as 100 years, and are stronger and lighter than steel, meaning they are easier to transport and assemble, the BDN reported. These bridges can be built in 72 hours. “The design load for a highway bridge is exceeded by a factor of seven and a half times,” Habib Dagher, the center’s executive director, told WABI. “Which is what we designed this for. So it is seven-and-a-half times stronger than the code requires right now and it’s more than three times the strength of a typical highway steel concrete bridge.” The center tested the bridge to failure at the event, and plans next to build a bridge that’s double the length, with the goal of having the lighter, stronger and cheaper material become the standard for bridge building, according to WABI. “It means jobs for these future graduates,” said Sen. Collins. “It means new materials that will allow our bridge to last for a hundred years and it will allow us to build roads, bridges and rail lines far more quickly than is possible today.” The Keene Sentinel published the BDN article.