URI students unveil possible solution to fix crumbling roads and bridges


URI students unveil possible solution to fix crumbling roads and bridges. (NBC 10 Photo)

Kingston, R.I. - Students at University of Rhode Island say they have a solution to fix crumbling roads and bridges.

They unveiled the findings on campus Friday.

The $30,000 study, funded in part by Commerce RI, was conducted by three students and faculty members.

It found that composite materials may be the long-term solution for infrastructure.

It's basically a fancy word for reinforced plastics which are engineered from two or more different materials.

Researchers say composite materials can handle the harsh New England winters and last twice as long as traditional road surfaces like concrete.

Findings also show they're cheaper.

"If we get into this innovative materials, we're going to move a step ahead," said URI PhD students Irine Neda.

"It's tough to dismantle the bridges that we already have, even if they're working and in good condition," said URI Mechanical Engineering Professor Arun Shukla. "But certainly the ones that are very old and the ones we've decided to replace, we should replace them with composites rather than going back to the old material which is concrete."

The study found that 54% of roads in Rhode Island are in poor condition and 25% of bridges are structurally deficient.

RIDOT's Executive Director told NBC 10 the state will cautiously adopt the findings of this study.

In the near future, he says composite materials may be used in smaller projects like foot-bridges.

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