Transportation Center, rapidly deployable bridge system celebrated

Plans for the highly competitive $14.2 million, five-year grant recently awarded to the University of Maine to establish a University Transportation Center were the focus of a media event Aug. 8, led by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt and Advanced Structures and Composites Center Executive Director Habib Dagher.

Approximately 100 people attended the event at the UMaine Composites Center, including construction industry leaders, engineers and researchers representing universities throughout New England.

The UMaine-led coalition, called the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center, includes the University of Rhode Island, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Vermont, and Western New England University. Additional partners include representatives from state DOTs and the American Society of Civil Engineers Transportation and Development Institute.

“This center is further demonstration of the leadership of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at Maine’s public research university,” says Ferrini-Mundy. “The cutting-edge research done here and in partnership with the other members of the coalition will make a difference in this state, throughout New England and nationwide.”

Dagher says Sen. Collins has worked tirelessly to help make Maine and UMaine research and development leaders. “Her efforts over many years have enabled UMaine to develop world-leading labs and technologies that have led to creating new Maine businesses. Engineering and science research programs have also employed and trained thousands of UMaine students who are now leaders in industry,” he says.

After two decades of innovation, the UMaine Composites Center is a world-leader in developing innovative solutions to address the nation’s civil infrastructure challenges, Dagher says. And the new University Transportation Center is a game-changer for UMaine and its students.

“It will allow us to work with DOTs and university colleagues across New England to extend the life of bridges and roads, and develop new materials and technologies to build more durable bridges,” he says. “The 72-Hour Bridge that we just successfully tested today [Wednesday] is an example of new technologies that we plan to develop and deploy.”

Immediately following the media event, an innovative, rapidly deployable bridge system designed at the center was tested to failure. The composite bridge withstood forces up to 376,000 pounds and 7.5 times the HL 93 design load specified by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.

The lightweight system, named the 72-Hour Bridge, can be built in fewer than three days and is designed to last 100 years with little or no maintenance. The bridge system is targeted to be used for highway bridges, pedestrian bridges and military applications.

The Advanced Structures and Composites Center is a world-leading, interdisciplinary center for research, education and economic development encompassing material sciences, manufacturing, and engineering of composites and structures. It includes a testing laboratory with more than 150 full- and part-time personnel.

Watch Collins, Bernhardt and Dagher deliver remarks at the event.

—  Meghan Collins, 207.581.2117, 207.852.8414