URI students pitch composite material for RI’s roads, bridges

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – A group of students at the University of Rhode Island are looking to change the way roads and bridges are made.

The three graduate students–Irine Neba Mforsoh, mechanical engineering, and Annika J. Haak and Sumeru Nayak, civil engineering–presented their findings Friday.

Their research shows that building bridges and roads out of composite materials instead of steel and concrete saves money in the long-term and lasts longer. The composite materials are made of highly-durable plastic reinforced with fiberglass, which has decreased in cost by about 50 percent since the 1990s.

While the composite roads and bridges would cost more at the onset, the students’ findings showed that the durability of the products means the state would save money in the long term.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) and Peter Alviti, Director of RIDOT, were in attendance.

Whitehouse spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it would offer Rhode Island a chance to stand out.

“They last longer, they have lower costs over the full length of the project and the work can be done here in Rhode Island at our composites manufacturers,” Whitehouse said.

Alviti says RIDOT is considering using the composite materials.