Monthly Archives: August 2014

Groundbreaking new composite bridge swings into place in the UK

Photo © Atkins

Photo © Atkins

What is believed to be the first bridge of its type in the UK has just been installed over the River Frome at the village of Frampton Cotterell, near Bristol. It is scheduled to open for use by the public this September.

The new composite road bridge has been designed by global consultancy, Atkins, which has adapted technology normally used to build advanced passenger aircraft. The wider project team has also included The National Composites Centre, Bristol University, CTS Bridges, Fibreline Composites and SKM.

Photo © Atkins

Photo © Atkins

Atkins hopes the bridge could help pave the way for a new generation of structures which cost up to 25% less than their concrete and steel equivalents over their lifetime, and, if adopted more widely, could save millions of pounds in installation and maintenance costs. Western Europe currently spends around £5 billion per year of taxpayers’ money maintaining and rebuilding its tens of thousands of bridges.

Composite bridges are equally as strong as steel or concrete bridges but lighter in weight, making them easier to transport from the offsite factory at which they are assembled.   They are also quicker to install, reducing the need for lengthy road and railway closures and the knock on disruption for residents and businesses these cause.

This type of bridge will also be more resilient against frost, extreme temperatures and de-icing salts, which will significantly reduce the frequency of maintenance checks and the cost of maintenance over the bridge’s lifetime by at least 50 per cent.

Illustrative costs of composite bridges versus more traditional materials

Illustrative costs of composite bridges versus more traditional materials

James Henderson, senior consultant at Atkins, explains, “The new bridge at Frampton Cotterell is at the forefront of an exciting new phase in civil engineering techniques. The strength and lightweight nature of composites have allowed commercial aircraft to fly further, faster and more economically.

“Having gained this knowledge and expertise, we wanted to see where else the technology could be used to deliver similar benefits. Our initial idea was to look at bridge building, a form of engineering which has largely been using the same methods for centuries.”

Atkins is an official engineering services provider to the UK’s National Composites Centre and is looking into the advantages of using composites across other engineering projects including London Underground train doors, nuclear infrastructure, gantries and catenaries and wind turbines.

By Gail Taylor 

Written By admin 
August 29, 2014 12:58 pm
Posted In Bridges

The Panama Canal: 100 years old and still growing…


Click on image to enlarge

The Panama Canal has just celebrated a centenary of providing an essential shortcut for ships sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It was hoped the on-going Panama Canal Expansion project would be completed in time to coincide with the centenary, but strikes and cost overruns have pushed back the scheduled completion date to 2016.

The $3.2 bn expansion began in 2007 to allow the transit of modern-day Post-Panamax super-ships through three gigantic new locks. These vessels now dwarf the Panamax ships that were once considered huge themselves.


The first ship to traverse the 50-mile long Canal 100 years ago was the SS Ancon. In 2010, the Fortune Plum became the 1,000,000th vessel to make the journey.

Today, the Canal is estimated to carry about 3 per cent of the world’s maritime cargo, representing in the region of $270 bn’s worth of trade. Ships take around 10 hours to make the passage, shortening journeys by thousands of miles and dramatically reducing fuel costs.

Graphic courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

Click on image to enlarge – Graphic courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

Marking the centenary, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper lists a number of interesting facts about the Panama Canal, for example that it ‘connects 144 maritime routes calling at 1,700 ports in 160 countries’.

The article goes on to report that ‘the most common cargo vessels to use the waterway each year are container ships (3,103), dry bulk carriers (2,903) and tankers (2,468)’.

Written By admin 
August 21, 2014 21:04 pm
Posted In Uncategorized

First pile marks start of marine construction works on Aqaba LNG project, Jordan

Image courtesy of BAM International bv

Image courtesy of BAM International bv

Netherlands-based BAM International has successfully driven in the first pile at the new LNG (liquid natural gas) jetty in Aqaba, Jordan. The project is proceeding as scheduled and hand-over to client, the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), is expected in April 2015.
The scope of work for the new LNG jetty includes a 100-metre trestle on steel piles, a concrete off-loading platform of 20 x 20 metres, four mooring dolphins and two breasting dolphins.

The project further comprises a 700-metre long gas pipeline to the shore tie-in point, as well as associated control equipment and instrumentation.

Image courtesy of BAM International bv

Image courtesy of BAM International bv

The development of the terminal area, including roads and two buildings, also forms part of the contract. The substructure works for the terminal building are nearing completion, and the substructure works for the administration building have commenced.

Together with its sister company, BAM Contractors from Ireland, and its Jordanian joint-venture partner MAG Engineering & Contracting Co, BAM International was originally awarded the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of the LNG jetty in November 2013. BAM Infraconsult is involved in the design of the civil works.
This is the third project for BAM in Aqaba. The joint venture has already successfully completed the New Port in Aqaba for the same client earlier this year and the extension of the Container Terminal for APMT and ADC in 2013.

By Gail Taylor

Consultation begins on new £1.3tn infrastructure proposal for London

A new report from the Greater London Authority (GLA) has revealed the capital’s strategic infrastructure investment requirements to 2050. Consultancy, Arup has been working closely with the GLA to draw up the £1.3 trillion plan, entitled “London Infrastructure Plan 2050 – A Consultation”.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has just launched the report – representing the start of consultation – in Barking, East London, declaring that its contents were “a real wake-up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half a century”.

With London’s population growing by 2,000 people every eight days, Johnson is concerned that massive investment in infrastructure is needed in order for London to keep its place among the elite of world cities.

The report examines seven sectors from transport, waste and energy to open spaces and broadband, and spells out the infrastructure needs of London over the next thirty-five years to cope with a growing population.

Housing and transport combined represent nearly 80 per cent of the investment needed to 2050. Between them they are estimated to have a funding gap of close to £135 billion.

New rail infrastructure comprises a major element of the plans. Featuring in the proposals are blueprints for a new orbital metro-style railway around London, which according the UK’s Guardian newspaper has been dubbed the “R25” in City Hall.


A series of new river crossings in addition to those already currently planned is also proposed, along with further Crossrail lines.

Alexander Jan, project director at Arup, commented, “Investment activity will be needed on an industrial scale not seen since Victorian times. But it is not all about tunnels, railways and power transmission.

“Cleaner air, natural flood protection and places for Londoners to walk and cycle are central to the city’s quality of life and urban sustainability. And a major increase in housing provision would address one of the most pressing needs of Londoners.”

A consultation on the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 will now run for three months and the Mayor is expected to publish a final report in early 2015.

By Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
August 01, 2014 13:09 pm
Posted In Metro, TRANSPORT