- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Founded in 2000 as the U.S. branch of a storied French civil engineering firm, Freyssinet Inc. has grown into a leading name in the domestic market since its inception. While the company was originally founded with a focus on post-tensioning, Freyssinet has expanded its slate of services in recent years to include parking garage repair as well as bridge repair and reinforcement.
With headquarters in Sterling, Virginia, and a newly expanded west coast presence, Freyssinet acts as a principal contractor, subcontractor and supplier to clients throughout the U.S., including contractors, state Departments of Transportation, local authorities and developers.
Freyssinet’s specialization in post-tensioning can be traced back to company founder Eugene Freyssinet, who pioneered the process as well as being one of the major early proponents of prestressed concrete. Today the company’s has expanded its expertise to include staycables, structural cables, bearings, joints seismic devices andrepair. The company also offers diagnostic survey, repair, refurbishment, bridge bearings and cathodic protection of reinforced concrete for the building, civil and marine sectors.
Shoring up aging infrastructure
In the last five years, Freyssinet has seen significant growth in both the repair and construction sides of the business, formally splitting the company into two divisions to address the two distinct focuses.
Parking garage repair is a rapidly growing specialty at Freyssinet, according to CEO and president Michael Louis. “The structure really suffers with environmental conditions such as salt leaking through and causing corrosion,” he says.
“By reinforcing structural members, applying coating, corrosion inhibitors and installing carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRP) or external post-tensioning, Freyssinet can extend a structure’s useful life by as much as 10 to 15 years,” says Louis.
CFRPs themselves represent an exciting new tool for the company, which began using such polymers in the early 2000s. “When the concrete’s integrity has been compromised or you need to add loads to the structure, one solution may be to apply CFRP to the concrete and it strengthens it,” he says. “That’s what the repair business is all about: adding life to the structure without the cost of taking down and rebuilding.”
The company’s growing proficiency in CFRP techniques has allowed it to break into new markets, repairing older buildings such as the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C. The method can also be used to reconfigure building layouts, with Louis citing the example of reinforcing the upper floor of a building with CFRP so it could house a library. “In order to renovate, you often need to strengthen,” he says.
The company’s CFRP-based repair and renovation work has seen early success thanks in no small part to an experienced and dedicated sales team. “We hired some sales people and business development personnel in that field who really made it take off locally here in the mid-Atlantic,” says Louis.
Bridging gaps in the market
Freyssinet has completed a number of marquee projects in recent years, including repairs to the Senator William V Roth Jr. Bridge in St. Georges, Delaware, that wrapped up in 2015. Also known as the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge, the 4,650-foot, cable-stayed concrete and steel bridge was put out on an open bid from the Army Corps of Engineers.
“It needed repairs and strengthening,” says Louis. “Those repairs were performed on time and budget and the client has been very satisfied.”
In Wallops Island, Virginia, Freyssinet completed repairs to the Wallops Island Causeway Bridge at the NASA facility. Built in 1959, the 21-span concrete bridge runs 1,283 feet across Cat Creek. A 2011 inspection unveiled numerous areas of concrete delamination and issues with the bridge’s post-tensioning system. Freyssinet landed the contract in 2013 after an open bid process and completed numerous concrete repairs and restorations to both the deck and substructure using CFRP techniques.
The company was recognized by the Baltimore-Washington D.C. chapter of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) for its work on the bridge, earning a third place award for the Wallops Island Causeway Bridge project.
Freyssinet has been extensively recognized for its stay cable work and was part of a team, along with Finley Enginerrings Group Inc. and The Lane Construction Corporation, which received the Engineering Excellence Awards Competition National Recognition Award for the project I-35 Brazos River Bridge in April 2015. In that same year the company earned the 2015 ASBI Bridge Award of Excellence for the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge in Oregon.
Acting as a general contractor, Freyssinet was nominated as one of the finalist for the Maryland Quality Initiative for the Replacement of Two Howard Arch Bridge Bearings Project in Baltimore.
In early 2015, Freyssinet expanded into the western U.S., opening a new office in Seattle. While progress has been slow as the company attempts to break into the new market, the company currently has three projects being completed through the new location.
“We’re taking baby steps over there and it takes some time when you open an office from scratch, but it’s just a matter of knocking on the right doors,” says Louis. “The same work that’s been done here in the mid-Atlantic needs to be completed on the West Coast.”
As a company with a worldwide reputation as a leader in post-tensioning and a newly expanded expertise in emerging repair techniques such as CFRP, Freyssinet Inc. will remain a trusted name in the industry.
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