aluminum extruded street sign on Ontario residential street
aluminum street lights on a nightime street
Aluminum Extrusion for Infrastructure

Aluminum extrusion’s unique attributes make it an ideal material for numerous infrastructure projects—from complete pedestrian bridges to highway bridge components, street lighting to highway signage, and ferry docks. 

Extrusion’s benefits typically yield time savings in fabrication and installation, greatly reduced maintenance costs, and substantial value at end of life, due to aluminum’s infinite recyclability.

Key Benefits 

  • Lightweight: At about 1/3 the weight of steel, aluminum structures can reduce fabrication, transport and installation costs, and increase the load-carrying capability of bridges
  • Strong: With a wide range of alloys and the ability to easily produce multi-void hollows, extrusion can produce structural components to meet most requirements.  And cold-weather applications are not a concern, as aluminum actually becomes stronger as temperatures fall
  • Corrosion resistant: Aluminum naturally generates a protective oxide that is highly corrosion resistant, greatly reducing ongoing maintenance costs
  • Resilient: Extrusions combine strength with flexibility and can flex under load
  • Versatile: Complex shapes can be developed which enhance strength and encompass features to minimize joining cost and competitivity
  • Recyclable: And—at end of life—aluminum holds a high scrap value, due to its recyclability, with no degradation of properties, into high-value products.

But What About Cost?

For any infrastructure project, costs are a major consideration.  And an aluminum extrusion-based solution will generally be more expensive than a steel solution—on a first-cost basis. However, when TCO or Total Cost of Ownership (including maintenance and end-of-life recovery) is considered, the aluminum solution may be the lower cost option.  Note the results below from a TCO assessment conducted by Deloitte and the MAADI group.

Even excluding installation costs, which can be expected to be lower for the aluminum bridge due to a 37% weight reduction, allowing a smaller, less-expensive crane, the aluminum solution has a life cycle cost over 20% less than that for steel—due both to lower maintenance costs and higher residual value for aluminum 

Material Steel - 2 Coats  Steel - 3 Coats Steel - Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel - Hot Dip Galvanized Aluminum - Natural Finish 
Setting  Urban & Maritime Urban & Maritime Urban Maritime Urban & Maritime
PV: Acquisition $26,875 $29,690 $26,938 $26,938 $30,979
PV: Maintenance  $46,040 $18,875 $8,209 $16,747 $0
PV: Disposition (Salvage Only) -$234 -$234 -$234 -$234 -$3,711
TCO* $72,681 $48,331 $34,913 $43,351 $27,268

* USD, based on 3% discount rate 

Old bridge with green railings over a river in the Colorado wilderness
Newer bridge built with aluminum extrusion over a river in the Colorado wilderness
Case Example
Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge

Moffat County Colorado, Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, 320’ spanning the Green River

  • New aluminum decking/support swing bridge replaces wooden plank bridge
  • Load capacity increased from 3T to 14T
  • Light weight extrusion-based construction facilitated short rebuild time, increased load capacity

Bridge Progress

  • Bridge deck panel with a skid-resistant surface (2-part epoxy with aggregate)
  • Deck comprised of extruded aluminum with multi-void hollows joined via Friction Stir Welding (FSW)
  • Deck panels produced off-site by AlumaBridge
  • Installing the bridge deck via overhead trolley
  • 10-week elapsed time for reconstruction

Courtesy of AlumaBridge

Case Example

I Street Bridge Replacement Project

Extruded aluminum decking is key to the world-first design of new Sacramento River bridge.

Construction beginning in 2024-2027, replaces the existing 110+ year old bridge that connects the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento in California. The current out-dated bridge's nine-foot lanes are too narrow to serve buses, there are no bicycle lanes, and the sidewalks are too narrow to meet current accessibility standards.

The new bridge design is 860 ft. long x 100 ft. wide with traffic and pedestrian lanes

Decking is multi-void hollow extrusions joined by friction stir welding and topped with an epoxy aggregate traffic surface .

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