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Iowa bridge made with new concrete mix christened

Iowa bridge made with new concrete mix christened

FAIRBANK (AP) — A bridge made with a new ultra-high performance concrete from South Korea has been christened in Buchanan County.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the 52-footlong Hawkeye UHPC Bridge near Fairbank was christened Tuesday. Brent Phares, director of the Bridge Engineering Center at Iowa State University, says the ultra-high performance concrete used for the bridge is fairly new to the engineering scene. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the ultra-high performance concrete became commercially available in the U.S. in 2000.

Engineers say the concrete has short strands of steel and is up to eight times stronger than a traditional mix.

David Lee a professor at the University of Iowa, which brought in the dense material, says the steel is a waste byproduct from the tire manufacturing industry.

Byung-Suk Kim, an engineer with the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, said structures like the new bridge may endure for 200 years, and is almost maintenance-free. Bridges made with a traditional concrete mix usually last about 50 years, and need repairs with 15 to 20 years.

Phares says that because the new concrete is dense, fluids cannot penetrate the surface and cause it to deteriorate like traditional structures.

“To me, that is probably the No. 1 quality of the material,” Phares said.

Alec Scranton, dean of University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, said contractors shied away from bidding on the construction of the bridge because of the new technology, so employees of Buchanan County Secondary Roads Department did the work themselves.

Buchanan County’s engineer Brian Keierleber “We had a fairly steep learning curve.”

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