Financial Viability of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Bridges


The application of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) technology to bridges can provide performance enhancements at a time when there is a large and growing need to replace aging bridges in the United States. However, construction costs are significantly higher than with traditional methods, and it is not clear if this technology can become competitive in the standard short-span bridge market. This study investigates current and future costs to determine how cost competitive this technology is likely to become, taking into account the expected improvements in manufacturing, transport, and installation, as well as life-cycle differences. Based on two demonstration FRP bridges and the learning curve approach, the results show that anticipated improvements would not be sufficient to compete on cost with reinforced-concrete bridges. Unless significant improvement also occurs in the cost of component material, this technology will not be cost competitive for the standard short-span bridge, and the application of FRP technology will be limited to other segments of the market, such as bridge deck construction and bridge repair.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Road Traffic; Civil engineering; Plastics; Polymers

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2003 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2003