Better Bridges and Roads: UMaine-Led Research Coalition Tackles the Future of Transportation

Drivers over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge are likely unaware there’s a small laboratory within the bridge where University of Maine faculty and students, in cooperation with the Maine Department of Transportation, have set up shop.

Using measurement tools like fiber-optic strain sensors and temperature sensors, the group is monitoring six high-strength, non-corrosive carbon fiber composite strands used in select spots on the structure, which otherwise employs conventional steel strands to hold up the bridge.The goal is to see how well the carbon fiber strands perform. The idea is that composites, inherently non-corrosive, could provide better longevity than steel, ultimately saving cost.

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