Why Not Plastics Bridges?

by Fred C. McCormick, Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Structural Division, 1972, Vol. 92, Issue 8, Pg. 1757-1767

Document Type: Journal Paper


Considerable knowledge and experience has been accumulated over recent years with the use of structural plastics in buildings, boats, and automobiles but few attempts have been made to construct bridges of reinforced plastics. Factors inhibiting the use of plastics in bridge construction include high material costs, unknown material properties and unfamiliarity with design procedures. Design examples of two 80-ft. (24.4 m) span, posttensioned structural plastic bridges for pedestrians are presented and compared with similar bridges built with steel and concrete and aluminum. Materials cost differentials are decreasing with technological advances in plastics materials, but at the present time, structural plastics are not economically competitive with concrete and metals for general-purpose bridges.

Subject Headings: Material properties | Bridge design | Construction materials | Infrastructure construction | Steel bridges | Plastics | Bridges | Concrete structures

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