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FRP Bridges 2012



David Kendall, Optima Projects Ltd, UK, david.kendall@optima-projects.com Ian Smith, Tony Gee & Partners, UK, Ian.Smith@tonygee.com Wendy Gough, Network Rail, UK

ABSTRACT This paper presents the development of an FRP footbridge at Dawlish Station, UK. The 17.5m long covered bridge replaces a severely corroded steel bridge and is the first FRP bridge at a mainline station in the UK and the first Grade II listed FRP bridge. The structure aesthetically replicates the original steel structure, but provides a much lighter and more durable solution and is expected to result in considerable through-life cost savings. The structure mainly utilises standard pultruded profiles with bonded and bolted joints, combined with sandwich parapet panels moulded by film infusion and moulded FRP stair units. Details of the design and structural analysis are presented in the paper. The bridge is undergoing construction at the time of writing and is expected to be installed towards the end of 2012.

ABBREVIATIONS FEA FRP Optima PB NR TG Finite Element Analysis Fibre Reinforced Polymer Optima Projects Ltd Parsons Brinkerhoff Network Rail Tony Gee and Partners



Dawlish is a seaside town on the south coast of Devon UK, about 12 miles from Exeter. Originally a fishing port, it grew into a well-known resort in the 18th century. In 1830, Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed a pneumatic principle railway which ran along the sea-front of the town. The wide-gauge atmospheric railway opened on 30 May 1846 and ran between Exeter St. Davids and Newton Abbot. The first passenger train ran in September 1847, but after technical problems the Directors abandoned the project in favour of conventional trains - the last atmospheric train ran in September 1848. The line is now part of Network Rails mainline network. While the line is noted as a particularly memorable and scenic route, it is one of the most exposed lines in the country, and the continual battle with sea erosion and corrosion makes it expensive to maintain. Furthermore, the railway station at Dawlish is in the town centre immediately adjacent to the beach. The station is a highly visible landmark in a holiday destination, and although most of the station is not the original Brunel buildings, it is all Grade II listed, including the footbridge. The station platforms are linked by a steel bridge, and the station is so close to the sea that in storm conditions this gets drenched by the spray from breaking waves, and can also be blasted by wind-born debris (sand) from the beach and the existing bridge is in a very poor state.

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Structural Form The station was originally only a single platform (on the inland side), but a second platform was added in 1858. The existing station buildings were opened in 1875 after the previous wooden buildings burned down in 1873. However, the current bridge is a reconstruction undertaken in 1937 using serviceable girders that were taken from Park Royal & Twyford Abbey tube Station (a disused station on what is now the Piccadilly Line) after that station had closed in 1931. The bridge has a single square span of 17.5m, being supported on padstones built into the masonry of the station buildings (the staircases to access the deck being partly stone masonry within the buildings, partly timber suspended from the deck). The walkway is approximately 1.8m wide. The bridge has a roof with wide overhanging eaves, though the nature of the exposure (sea spray coming in horizontally) is that these have not significantly protected the structure. One half of the span additionally has timber cladding to somewhat protect bridge users from spray and sand. The girders are riveted built-up sections of early steel. The webs have a clearly visible X-brace detail, the visibility of which is perhaps enhanced by the corrosion patterning! This detail and the riveted construction was identified as being a key part of the character of the existing structure and early discussion with the planning and listed building authorities identified that if replacement was to be adopted, then these features would need to be carried forward into the replacement structure. Maintain, Repair or Replace The existing structure is in very poor condition, with extensive well-established and very visible corrosion. Structurally it was believed to be not quite as bad, until recently. Detailed inspection in 2004 had categorised the condition as fair, though this conclusion was somewhat questionable since even then many holes and significant corrosion points were identified. The next detailed inspection in 2010 identified that the defects reported in 2004 had deteriorated significantly, and made a less positive assessment of the condition. A like-for-like repair option was developed, but it required replacement of a large proportion of the structure eight out of 20 web panels, nine out of 22 web stiffeners and the full length of both flanges on both girders were to be replaced. All the repairs would be carried out with HSFG bolts replacing the existing rivets. Thus, although the structure would look superficially unchanged, most of it would be new. A further study was carried out by TG in 2011. In addition to the known defects, severe corrosion to the girder / cross girder connections which was not previously noted was also identified. The condition of the structure had deteriorated to such an extent that some holes in the web had been patched temporarily with hardboard, just to remove the risk of public injury on a sharp corroded edge. Analysis by TG identified that not only could the structure not carry the specified imposed load due to corrosion of the members, even in an as new condition the bridge was under strength due to a lack of strength and stiffness in the U-frames providing lateral stability to the top flange of the plate girders. Thus, although the like-for-like repairs were costed (at approximately 600k), NRs preferred option was a replacement structure. A new steel footbridge was considered, but while this would be detailed to reduce the susceptibility to corrosion, the location was such that it could only restart the continued (and probably unwinnable) fight against corrosion. That the station was listed and a simple off-the-shelf solution would probably not be acceptable would also increase costs. Accordingly, a wholly FRP structure was considered both to simplify installation (by reduced weight) but more critically to reduce ongoing maintenance costs and requirements in the extremely hostile environment. Although this was identified as more expensive than steel initially, the whole life costs for the structure should be much reduced. Coincidentally, this will become the first FRP bridge at a mainline station in the UK.

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Figure 1 External Views of existing steel bridge

Figure 2 - Internal View of existing steel bridge

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Imposed Loading The bridge was required to withstand normal Eurocode footbridge loading and criteria were agreed between the designers and NR. In recognition that the bridge deck may fill with pedestrians (when a train disgorges a large number of passengers at once) the full load model 4 loading of 5 kN/m2 distributed live load was applied, but the loaded length was such that this is the same intensity of load as set out in the National Annex [ref 2 NA.2.36]. A horizontal force of 0.5 kN/m2 acting along the footbridge at deck level was incorporated in accordance with BS EN 1991-2:2003 5.4 [1]. The concentrated load case of a 10 kN patch load over a 100 x 100mm area ([1] was also incorporated. Since there are flights of stairs at each end of the deck, the requirements for service vehicle loading were not required the stairs are deemed to constitute permanent provisions to prevent the entry of vehicles. Parapet loading in Eurocodes was not well resolved at the time of the design, so the loading was taken from older standards. In accordance with Highways Agency document TD 19/06 Requirements for Road Restraint Systems a nominal live load of 1400 N/m applied transversely or vertically at the top of the parapet was agreed with NR. Wind and Aerodynamic Loading Wind loading is also a conceptually simple code-compliant situation, although the location is exposed and the wind loads are accordingly relatively high. Aerodynamic stability was considered in accordance with BS EN 1991-1-4:2005 [4], the associated National Annex [5] and PD 6688-1-4:2009 [6], though this is a variation from the standard in that the document strictly does not apply to bridges which have a roof, and the material is not in the list the standard covers (though among the materials quoted are ones that potentially bracket the densities and stiffnesses of the materials used in this bridge - steel, aluminium, timber). Lightweight bridges are potentially prone to dynamic response from the aerodynamic loads from passing trains. It was agreed that this effect would be analysed during detail design based on criteria developed during the design of the Bradkirk footbridge for NR and a study undertaken by PB. Since line speeds here (60mph) are much lower than the speeds studied at Bradkirk (118mph) the pressure loads were assumed to be proportional to the square of train speed. Acceptance Criteria As is common for an FRP structure, the global acceptance criteria were expected to be critical for deflections and/or accelerations. The acceptance criteria adopted for deflections were broadly taken from Highways Agency document BD 90/05 [7], being a deflection limit of span/300, or in this case 58mm, both vertically and horizontally. Although BD90 does not restrict the deflection limits to deck level, the deflection limit was not applied to the full height of the roof structure, but rather only to the structure to the level of the top of the girders. For fundamental frequencies, an acceptance criterion of 1.5Hz minimum frequency for lateral or torsional and 5 Hz minimum frequency for vertical modes was adopted. These figures were taken from BD90 [7] for the vertical loads (Experience with conventional bridges suggests that if the fundamental natural frequency is above 5Hz, then dynamic effects are not significant) and the requirements of National Annex to BS EN 1991-2:2003 [2] for lateral and torsional modes to avoid unstable lateral response due to crowd loading (If there are no significant lateral modes with frequencies below 1.5 Hz it may be assumed that unstable lateral responses will not occur). For the buffeting analysis the acceptance level was that accelerations due to passing trains should not exceed 0.91 m/s2, which is the recommended serviceability limit for pedestrian actions on footbridges Page 4

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from the National Annex to BS EN 1991-2:2003 [2] (on the assumption that pedestrians will be no more sensitive to effects from passing trains than they are to those from other pedestrians). Although deflections and accelerations were identified as probably critical, strength of elements and in particular strength of joints was also checked, following the methods and adopting factors as set out in the Eurocomp Design Code and Handbook [8].



Initial concept studies were carried out by Optima and considered a more efficient truss construction such as the Warren truss arrangement shown below. This deep truss would have maximised the structural depth, reduced mass and produced a very economic solution. However, due to the historic nature of the previous bridge it was decided that this was too great a departure from the existing design and was unlikely to receive the necessary Listed Building Consent.

Figure 3 Deep Truss Concept Some more traditional truss arrangements based on a rectangular Vierendeel truss were then developed as shown below. These still utilised a longitudinal top chord member at roof level to maximise the structure depth, but to make the top chord effective in resisting global longitudinal bending it was necessary to make the vertical posts sufficiently stiff to resist the resulting shear loading. As this was becoming less structurally efficient and due to concerns regarding listed building consent it was decided to revert to a plain girder design, closely following the geometry and aesthetic of the original bridge.

Figure 4 Concept Design based on deep Vierendeel Truss

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The final design is shown in Figure 5. To assist with the design development and also to obtain planning approval and listed building consent, several computer models and rendered visualisations were generated.

Figure 5 Computer models and visualisations of the new bridge The full-scale sample section of girder shown in Figure 6 was also produced to assist the Planners and Conservation Officer visualise the FRP structure. The Conservation Officer insisted that the bridge replicated the aesthetic of the original riveted structure, so imitation rivet heads were bonded to the structure as seen in the sample panel in Figure 6. In some locations structural bolts are included to Page 6

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provide a backup to the bonded joints and prevent peel stresses in the bonds. These bolts were stainless steel with dome heads to blend in the rivet heads and fastened with tamper-proof shear nuts.

Figure 6 - Girder Sample Section The complete structure excluding the stair units is predicted to have a mass of only 5 tonnes, which is probably around 1/3 of the mass of an equivalent steel structure. The structure consists of the following major elements; Girders 1.66m deep side girders form the primary structure and parapet of the bridge. Each girder is formed from foam cored shear webs, moulded by film infusion using fire retardant epoxy resin and biaxial glass fibre reinforcement, capped top and bottom with pultruded angles and plates to form the girder flanges. Web stiffeners made from pultruded plate provide additional lateral support to the girders, connected to transverse angles below the deck. The girder includes a camber of 120mm along the length of the bridge, which improves the aesthetics and provides drainage to the deck. Deck The deck is formed from Composolite pultruded panels, spanning transversely between the girders. These panels are very lightweight with a skin thickness of only 3mm. To ensure adequate robustness and resistance to local concentrated loads an additional 3mm thick pultruded plate with a gritted non-slip finish is bonded to the top surface of the deck. The deck is bonded to the girders and also forms a shear panel to resist horizontal wind loading, removing the need for diagonal bracing below the deck. Unfortunately the deck has to terminate 2.7m from the end of the bridge as the stairs occupy this area at each end of the bridge. This creates a long length of girder acting as a cantilever and unable to resist the large wind side load. To strengthen these cantilevered areas external lateral support plates are fitted external to the girder, as see in the central image in Figure 5. Roof Frames The roof transverse frames are fabricated from back to back pultruded angles to form T sections with bonded and bolted joints. The roof frames support longitudinal purlins made from pultruded box section to support the roof panels. In addition to supporting the roof panels, the roof frames provide lateral restraint to the top of the girder and increase the torsional stiffness of the structure. Page 7

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To further increase the lateral and torsional stiffness a much stiffer transverse frame is provided at each end of the bridge as shown in the central image in Figure 5. Roof Roof panels are made from standard corrugated fibre-cement panels. Stairs Each stair unit at either end of the bridge is made from a single FRP moulding, including the stair treads, risers and side panels, hanging from the bottom flange of the bridge girder.



The entire bridge structure is manufactured from FRP materials. The majority of parts are pultruded with glass fibre reinforcements and fire retardant polyester resins to achieve structural properties to BS EN 13706 Grade E23. The pultruded parts used to fabricate the main girder flanges were pultruded in 17.5m lengths for the span of the bridge to avoid the need for joints in these parts. The parapet panels were moulded sandwich panels with PET foam cores and fire retardant epoxy resin reinforced with biaxial glass fabrics and moulded using film infusion. These panels were moulded in 3 sections for each parapet with simple bonded butt-strap joints. The final structure is painted to achieve the aesthetic requirements and to provide environmental protection to the composite structure.



The structure of the bridge has been analysed using computer models and finite element analysis (FEA). A general view of the FEA model is shown in Figure 7. The majority of the structure is represented using laminated composite shell elements, with the roof frames being modelled with line beam elements. Analyses carried out have included static, buckling, eigen-value and dynamic response analysis. Analysis was carried out with and without the roof panels to assess the stiffening effect of the roof panels, which were found to be beneficial in increasing torsional stiffness and vibration frequency. It was also demonstrated that the structure was safe ignoring any contribution from the roof panels.

Figure 7 FEA model representing of bridge span Page 8

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Static Results Under Live Loading Resultant Deflection = 23mm. Allowable deflection = span/300 = 17400/300 = 58mm.

Figure 8 Resultant deflection under full live load = 23mm

The first buckling mode under Live Load is shown below and the minimum Buckling Load Factor = 6.9.

Figure 9 Live Load Buckling, Load Factor = 6.9

Wind Load max side force,, deflections shown below, max horizontal deflection at deck level = 26mm Allowable deflection = span/300 = 17400/300 = 58mm. Page 9

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Figure 10 Horizontal deflection under wind load = 26mm at deck level

Eigen-value Analysis Eigen value analysis has been carried out to determine natural frequencies of the structure and results are presented below. Although not required by the Eurocodes, additional analysis has been carried out with some added mass to allow for a pedestrian density of 1.5 people/m2 on the deck, with the mass of a person taken as 70kg, giving an extra mass of 1.5 x 70 = 105 kg/m2, to determine the sensitivity of the structure to additional mass. This allows for an added mass of 12.2 x 1.55 x 105 = 1986 kg on the whole bridge. Summary of Natural Frequencies Unloaded bridge Loaded 1.5 people / m2 Mode 1 2 3 4 Frequency Hz 4.06 6.37 6.51 8.73 Shape Lateral Torsion Vertical Roof Minimum Allowable 1.5 1.5 5.0 N/A Frequency Hz 3.44 5.20 5.42 8.73 Shape Lateral Vertical Torsion Roof Minimum Allowable 1.5 5.0 1.5 N/A

Mode 1 Unloaded bridge 4.06 Hz Lateral

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Mode 2 Unloaded bridge 6.37 Hz Torsion

Mode 3 Unloaded bridge 6.51 Hz Vertical

Mode 1 Loaded 1.5 people/m2 3.44 Hz Lateral

Mode 2 Loaded 1.5 people/m2 5.2 Hz Vertical

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Mode 3 Loaded 1.5 people/m2 5.42 Hz Torsion



The aerodynamic stability of the bridge was checked in accordance with Eurocode 1 [4], the UK National Annex [5] and PD 6688 [6]. Simple checks indicated that the critical wind speeds for vertical or torsional vortex shedding induced vibration were above 1.25 x design mean wind speed and therefore did not require more detailed investigation. Initial calculations to predict galloping and stall flutter response indicted that the bridge may be prone to such aerodynamic instability. Modifications were made to the design to increase the frequency of the torsion mode of vibration, by adding diagonal bracing to the frames at each end of the bridge and reinforcing these frames, which increased the torsion mode from 3.3 to 6.4 Hz and resolved this potential problem.



Aerodynamic buffeting loads from passing trains have been derived based on previous research and loading criteria developed during the design of the Bradkirk FRP footbridge for NR. For the Dawlish Bridge, the line speed is limited to 60mph and this analysis has only been based on a single passing train at 60mph, although the effects of 2 simultaneous trains was also considered. The dynamic load predicted for this situation is 640 N applied over a loading curve as shown in Figure 11, derived from Eurocode [1].

Figure 11 Train Buffeting Loading Curve Page 12

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A modal transient dynamic analysis is then performed to predict the deflections and accelerations of the structure and predicted the following results, which are considered acceptable; Maximum acceleration on deck = 0.0262g = 0.257m/s2 Maximum deflection on deck = 0.29mm The dynamic response for selected nodes in the structure is shown below.

Deflection curves

Acceleration curves

Time = 1.0s

Figure ? Dynamic Response to Train Buffeting A limited number of time-domain analyses were also undertaken incorporating the effects of pressure fluctuations tracking across the width of the bridge deck to ensure no unusual torsional effects were observed. The dynamic response of the structure is considered acceptable for this location, partly due to the relatively low train speed of 60mph. As the dynamic load will be proportional to speed2, a 120mph would create four times the load. Also if the span were increased the dynamic response may increase significantly, so a greater understanding of the actual train buffeting loads would be very beneficial for future bridges, which may have greater spans and high-speed trains passing below them.



The structure, while not the first FRP footbridge for NR, is probably the highest profile yet, and likely to be used by more people than the previous structures Dawlish station has about 400,000 passengers per annum. Since the materials are still considered novel by NR, a rigorous design and checking process was implemented by NR. TG was appointed to prepare the From A (Approval in Principle document), complete the design and the Form B (Design / Checking certificate). NR specified that TG Should appoint Optima to undertake the detailed design, since Optima had undertaken initial scheme development work already. However, since TG was required to adopt and certify the design, the work done by Optima was also validated by TG. In addition, the structure received a full Category 3 independent check by PB. All three members of the design and checking team (TG, Optima, PB) have previously worked together in various schemes, and each has a previous portfolio of FRP projects.

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Listed Buildings Consent NR managed the process of obtaining listed building consent. This process required the production of reports and options studies justifying replacement rather than repair, and was driven through by NRs own planning and listed building specialists with support from the designers and the initial repair study. Consent was eventually obtained, although the requirements of the process resulted in various detail changes to the configuration from what would be necessary structurally. The final design mimics the form of the existing structure in order to minimise the visible changes to the various views that take in the station. Upon replacement, the bridge will remain part of the listing, and therefore become probably the first listed FRP Bridge in the UK.

10.0 TENDER PROCESS The bridge construction was subject to competitive tendering and awarded to BAM Nuttall as Main Contractor with Pipex appointed as a Sub-Contractor to undertake the fabrication of the FRP structure. Pultrusions were mainly supplied by Exel Composites apart from the deck panels, which were supplied by Strongwell.

11.0 FABRICATION At the time of writing the structure is undergoing fabrication and is expected to be installed late 2012.

12.0 TESTING Some small-scale testing was carried out prior to fabrication to ensure adequate bond strengths between structural bonded joints and also skin/core bonding of parapet sandwich panels. A full-scale load test on the completed structure is to be undertaken, prior to installation, up to full live loading.

13.0 CONCLUSIONS This project has demonstrated the ability to build FRP footbridges cost-effectively and meeting all performance criteria applied to conventional bridges. It has shown that the aesthetic appeal of a traditional railway footbridge can be replicated using FRP materials and it is expected that the use of FRP will result in much lower through-life costs and maintenance requirements. The fact that the bridge is Grade II listed and the first FRP footbridge at a mainline station in the UK provided additional challenges, but teamwork between the Designers and Client helped to overcome such hurdles.

14.0 REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. BS EN 1991-2:2003, Eurocode 1 Traffic Loads on Bridges. NA to BS EN 1991-2:2003, UK National Annex to Eurocode 1 Traffic Loads on Bridges. BS EN 13706, Reinforced Plastic Composites Specifications for Pultruded Profiles. BS EN 1991-1-4:2005+AC1:2009, Eurocode 1Wind Actions. NA to BS EN 1991-1-4:2008, UK National Annex to Eurocode 1Wind Actions. PD 6688-1-4:2009, Background paper to UK National Annex to BS EN 1991-1-4 and additional guidance. Highways Agency document BD 90/05 Design of FRP Bridges and Highway Structures. EUROCOMP Design Code and Handbook, Structural Design of Polymer Composites.

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