Sen. Sherrod Brown visits Owens Corning, touts infrastructure projects and American-made products

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Sep. 18—With a stop at Owens Corning's headquarters Friday, Sen. Sherrod Brown touted the company's fiberglass rebar product that officials believe will help transform infrastructure projects, particularly in the renovation of bridges.

"Ohio has 3,000 brides in various states of disrepair," Mr. Brown said and emphasized that bridges properly repaired relieve traffic congestion, create jobs, and make cities safer.

He also highlighted the importance of using American-made products for American projects, outlined in his Build America, Buy America Act legislation in 2017 that he fought to include in the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

Owens Corning's Fiberglas rebar product has been used in five bridge projects across Ohio — three of which are in Lucas County. The Anthony Wayne Trail Bridge, Sylvania-Metamora Road bridge over Tenmile Creek in western Lucas County, and the Yondota Road bridge over Cedar Creek in eastern Lucas County were all fiberglass rebar projects.

The two other bridges in Ohio that were also fiberglass rebar projects are located in Tallmadge and Napoleon.

The fiberglass rebar is comparable to steel, said Lucas County Engineer Mike Pniewski, but is lighter, doesn't rust, and could lead to extensive cost savings over time.

"We can double or even triple the lifespan of our bridges," Mr. Pniewski said.

Workers could more easily handle the product, because it weighs much less than steel, he said. And while the up-front cost of the product is roughly equivalent to steel, or possibly at times more expensive, Mr. Pniewski said the real savings would come from the longevity that the fiberglass product provides because of its non-corrosive features.

"Where you really get the savings is that you don't really need to replace this on a 20-, 30-year cycle," he said.

Marcio Sandri, Owens Corning president of composites, said the economy of a community is tied to its infrastructure, and while infrastructure aging is a normal occurrence, it's also an issue that needs to be addressed to promote economic health.

Owens Corning's fiberglass rebar product was launched in the U.S. about four years ago, Mr. Sandri said, but has been used globally for a while.

With fiberglass rebar that is lighter than steel, the cost of transporting, handling, and installing it drops, he said, and extends the time between renovations — bridges that would need to be repaired every 20 or 30 years would be able to go 70 or 80 — or even 100 — years without extensive renovation.

"We know that infrastructure supports the growth of the economy," he said.

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