Terre Armee Group/Reinforced Earth Co. (TA/RECo) has secured exclusive marketing and distribution rights for the patented composite-arch-bridge technology, popularly known as “bridge in a backpack.”
TA/RECo’s agreement with Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT), Orono, Maine, is intended to boost domestic and international interest in the technology, which was developed by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center under the direction of Habib Dagher, executive director. AIT, formed by the university in 2010 to refine and commercialize the technology, previously oversaw marketing of the bridge system to state DOTs and other transportation agencies.
Originally conceived for military rapid-deployment applications, the technology uses inflatable arch structures that can be transported to a site in duffle bags. The arches are inflated and infused with resin, forming a lightweight, hollow arch span that can be bent to any geometry, forming spans from 35 to 65 ft long. Then, the arch is filled with concrete and used to support the rest of the bridge.
AIT claims that, in addition to the composite arches’ low cost and ease of construction, they have a 100-year design life and require little maintenance. The bridge-in-a-backpack system was the first composite-material bridge technology to receive, in 2012, AASHTO approval.
To date, 20 of the inflatable composite arch bridges have been installed in the U.S., mostly in New England. Another 26-ft-long structure is in place on the island of Trinidad.
In announcing the agreement with AIT, TA/RECo CEO Robert Bloomfield expressed hope that research and development will further lower costs, making the bridge system more attractive to potential buyers.
“We know we can get in the door,” he said. “We need to be competitive in the end.”