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The fishing pier at sunrise in Ventnor City, New Jersey

Today, we are showcasing two of New Jersey’s Department of Transportation (NJDOT) innovations as we celebrate National New Jersey Day. NJDOT deserves recognition for their exciting implementation of two innovative technologies: the implementation of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and their use of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites.  

UAS/Drone

Named an Every Day Counts Round 5 Innovation (EDC-5) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) provide modern solutions to a variety of practices. UAS, commonly known as drones, are aircraft systems operated from the ground by a licensed pilot. These mobile aircraft can be used for a variety of reasons. The benefits of using UAS are far and wide when it comes to highway transportation with the ability to increase accuracy, speed of data collection, replace man power on the ground and provide access to difficult to reach locations.  

NJDOT fully institutionalized UAS in December 2021, ahead of the general curve. The state has been considered a national leader when it comes to implementing the use of the drone systems with progress starting even before it was named an EDC-5 Innovation. These drone systems provide state DOTs with information on road disturbances, damage assessments, and survey and imagery information for emergency response events. Beyond unexpected circumstances, UAS can also be used for routine activities like safety inspections for bridges or construction sites and general mapping and data collection. They provide the departments with high-quality information in a quick manner at a relatively low cost, a clear technological benefit to any DOT. 

Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Composites

In 2019, NJDOT used Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite piles for the first time. The FRP composites were used to rehab a bridge at a seaside resort in Cape May, N.J. located at the southern tip of the state. NJDOT chose FiberPILE, a product by Composites Advantage, made to replace corroded timber piles with light-weight, high-impact absorbing FRP composite piles. The nature of FRP composites allows for higher energy absorption and impact load. The Cape May bridge was originally built in 1994 with 141 wood piles. When replaced with FiberPILEs only 44 were needed. The project took around seven months to replace the piles. 

This technology withstands the weight and marine elements due to its high-strength fiberglass make-up, and corrosion-resistant resin. FiberPILE provides a longer-lasting, composite solution that reduces installation costs due to their lightweight nature. Composites Advantage President Scott Reeve stated, “We’re able to fabricate our pilings with a high strength-to-weight ratio which means we can make a very structurally efficient pile. FiberPILE products are corrosion resistant, impervious to marine boring life and the green material doesn’t leak any type of chemicals into the water.”  

Read the full story here Civil + Structural Engineer Media. 

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Sources: FHWA, NJDOT Tech Transfer, Civil + Structure Engineer Media