Perceptions of new and Established Waterfront Materials: U.S. Port Authorities and Engineering Consulting Firms


A demand exists for strong, cost-effective, durable, and environmentally benign building materials for weather-exposed infrastructure applications. In particular, port authority officials and engineers are seeking waterfront materials with a combination of "ideal" attributes that may not be currently available in the marketplace. Materials science advancements related to composite technologies are ongoing, and composite product lines for waterfront applications are expanding. This paper examines the perceptions of U.S. port authorities and engineering consulting firms regarding new and established waterfront materials in decking and fendering system applications. The findings from a nationwide survey indicate that the most important decking material attribute for U.S. port authorities and engineering consultants was reliable strength, followed by resistance to impact, resistance to decay, and low life cycle cost. The most important fendering material attribute for these two respondent groups was resistance to impact followed by high energy absorption, reliable strength, and structural design flexibility. The least important attribute for both decking and fendering was use of recycled materials. Material performance comparisons generally indicated a strong preference for concrete decking and steel fendering; composites were perceived as intermediate for both applications. In terms of cost, wood was perceived as the best; composites were perceived as the worst. Knowledge ratings of composite products and the receptivity to new technologies indicated that responding engineering consultants perceived themselves to be both more knowledgeable about composite materials and more progressive in the adoption of new technologies as compared to this study's port authority respondents

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This paper was published in Wood and Fiber Science (E-Journal).

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