Building on nearly 20 years of R&D, Ann Arbor-based AlumaBridge is manufacturing bridge decks made of aluminum, which company officials say are comparable in strength to concrete but only about 1/5 the weight.
Greg Osberg, AlumaBridge’s president and CEO, says versions of aluminum decking built in the 1990s cost as much as $250 per square foot. Today, he says the company sells fully fabricated systems —welded with a wearing surface so that it feels and looks like concrete — for $150 per square foot.
“This is the culmination of 20 years of aluminum bridge deck development by other corporate sponsors and previous bridge programs that have been part of larger companies like Reynolds Metals,” Osberg says “We’ve made improvements to how the deck is fabricated, or welded together, making it more viable based on a (lower) price point for departments of transportation, counties, municipalities, and toll authorities when they begin to look at structurally deficient bridges and what to do with them.”
A report released last month by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association ranked Michigan 16th nationally in the number of structurally deficient bridges. The state claims 11,022 bridges are structurally deficient, meaning the deck, superstructure, or substructure are in “poor” condition, while 1,720 are classified as functionally obsolete.
Osberg says AlumaBridge, founded last September, is poised to help eliminate those substandard bridges, noting is company is working on fabricating bridges in Florida and Canada.
“One way to address bridge structurally deficiency is to remove the ‘deadload’ or weight associated with an existing concrete deck,” Osberg says. “Any structurally deficient bridge in Michigan has the potential to be rapidly rehabilitated with prefabricated aluminum decking that mirrors the strength of concrete.”