Category Archives: Bridges

Infrastructure engineering celebrated at The Structural Awards 2013

Taizhou Bridge 1

The winners of the 2013 Structural Awards were announced on 15 November, in a ceremony held at London’s The Brewery. Organised annually by The Institution of Structural Engineers, the Awards celebrate the world’s most talented structural designers and their invaluable contribution to our built environment.

Y.K. Cheng, President of The Institution of Structural Engineers, said, “The Institution of Structural Engineers holds The Structural Awards each year to showcase the challenging environments in which engineers work and the complex structures they help to raise.

“The aim is to recognise the range of skills that characterise our global profession, raise awareness among the general public, and encourage young people into structural engineering careers. This year we have once again enjoyed a high standard of innovative entries and I congratulate all our winners on their achievements.”

Taizhou Bridge, which spans Jiangsu Province, China’s Yangtse River in, was presented with The Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence, together with the Award for Highway or Railway Bridge Structures. The bridge, designed by AECOM Asia Company Ltd alongside Jiangsu Provincial Communications Planning and Design Institute, is the world’s first three-tower, long-span suspension bridge.

Taizhou Bridge 2

The Structural Awards judges declared: “This enormous project was an extraordinary achievement, which pushed the frontiers of suspension bridge technology to new heights. Bridge engineering has just moved forward by a very significant margin.”

A dramatic new addition to London’s infrastructure, the The Emirates Air Line collected the Award for Infrastructure or Transportation Structures. Straddling the UK’s River Thames, the impressive Air Line cable car links two major landmark destinations, the ExCel Exhibition Centre and the O2. It is a joint engineering effort between Expedition Engineering, Buro Happold and URS.

Emirates Air Line 1 (Image by Mace)

The judges stated: “The synergy between architecture and engineering has yielded a new landmark which is both beautiful and bold. Delivery within a very short timescale is testament to the whole project team and a fine example of what the UK construction industry can deliver.”

Emirates Air Line 2 (Image by Luke Hayes)

The Award for Pedestrian Bridges was handed to the Pembroke College Footbridge, in Oxford, UK. With structural designer by Price & Myers, the Pembroke College Footbridge provides a walkway between the existing college and the new buildings opposite.

Bridge over Brewer Street, New Build on completion March 2013. Oxford, UK

Judges were bowled over by “the way the geometrical constraints on this project were solved to achieve an extremely elegant structure that complements its surroundings.”

Bridge over Brewer Street, New Build on completion March 2013. Oxford, UK

Smarter Mobility: an evening of debate hosted by Intelligence Squared

Smarter Mobility_Web Res-191

This debate, held at The Royal Institute of Great Britain and supported by Shell, aimed address the question of delivering smarter mobility options in ever-increasingly congested megacities, such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Leading the line were five of the field’s most innovative thinkers, brought together in an effort to sketch out the future of smart mobility, and was chaired by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).


Professor Paul Newman
A Professor of Engineering and leader of the Mobile Robotics Group at the University of Oxford, Professor Newman is an expert in driverless vehicle technology. He argued that, while the growth of driverless technology was inevitable, it will not occur overnight. Rather, the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will be a gradual progression. Key to this, Professor Newman stated, was the ability of vehicles to interpret their surroundings and learn without the help of external inputs such as GPS.

Robin Chase
Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, as well as co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Robin is a pioneer in the car-sharing marketplace. Focusing on the potential benefits of a city fully embracing car-sharing schemes, Robin observed that the development of car-sharing schemes would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, highlighting the vast majority of time personally owned cars spend parked and unused. This development also spells the proposition of the most functional, appropriate vehicles being made available to users at opportune times.

Jerry Saunders
Jerry is the CEO of Skytran, a company developing a rapid transit system that utilises maglev technology. Skytran, a NASA Space Act Company, has initially been developing this system for Tel Aviv. Skytran’s transportation pods run along tracks fitted above street level, and can travel at speeds of 100-200 kmph. Skytran will be capable of taking up to 11,500 passengers per hour on each guideline, with each pod using only one third of the energy of a hybrid car. When questioned on the greatest challenge facing this ambitious project, Jerry responded that it was not technological or developmental, but rather obstacles created by governments unable to fully understand and categorise this transportation alternative.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Ben is an urban designer and one of the leading proponents of the idea of ‘shared space’, a proposed solution to city congestion that involves the removal of street furniture and traffic controls. This low-tech and cheap congestion solution will increase road safety and vehicle flow by increasing user awareness of fellow users sharing the space around them, Ben argued.

David Rowan
The final speaker, David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of WIRED, attempted to tie together the various solutions proposed today. Key to David’s final messsage was the requirement of societies to reduce their fixation on personal ownership and embrace the idea of collective information, resources and ownership in the pursuit of smarter mobility.


The event concluded with a Q&A during which concerns raised by the audience focused on issues such as the transportation of goods, and what driverless cars and car-sharing schemes meant for those holding a passion for vehicles themselves. The first concern was met with a general consensus that there remains a considerable way to go in the development of goods transportation systems, especially within cities themselves. The second issue was handled by Professor Newman, who, reiterating an earlier point, argued that technology exists to provide its users with choices, and that an individual wishing to continue driving their own car will be free to do so.

Alexander Malden

Garden to bridge the Thames by Heatherwick and Arup

heatherwick thames bridge 3

A period of public consultation has begun for a new Garden Bridge proposed to cross London’s River Thames. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick with Dan Pearson Studio and engineers Arup, the concept has been developed in response to a call from Transport for London to enhance pedestrian links across the river.

When original proposals surfaced in June 2013, Heatherwick said: “With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. In this context, we are excited to have been selected by Transport for London (TfL) to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing. The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden.”

heatherwick thames bridge 2

This is not the first time that the designer has been inspired by the rich horticultural heritage of England’s capital as is most explicitly shown in his UK Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The Garden Bridge is 360m in length and adopts a curving outline, widening and narrowing to create a series of five spaces for different habitats and miniature landscapes. The foliage incorporated into the design will be seasonal, including mature trees, shrubs, grasslands and perennial plants. Two potential building materials have been mentioned in the plans, both of which offer neutral hues to blend with the neighbouring architecture: a copper-nickel alloy and a reconstituted stone with a warm colouring and texture.

heatherwick thames bridge 1

As well as celebrating the impressive green heritage of London, the bridge is designed to enhance connections between the Southbank and Temple and onwards to Covent Garden and Soho. An analysis of pedestrian footfall in the area has shown that journeys beyond Southbank, with its wide array of cultural attractions, are limited, and it is hoped that this new elevated garden will encourage users to venture further and explore new areas of London within the local vicinity.

A period of public consultation is now underway, overseen by new charity The Garden Bridge Trust. The charity and TfL are welcoming all comments on the designs which will be open to critique from the public until 20 December 2013.

Sian Disson

Salford goes global as bridge shortlist revealed

riba salford comp

Architects from a record-breaking 31 countries around the world have submitted their plans to build a new pedestrian bridge in Salford across the River Irwell.

Overall, the contest, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Competitions Department, received 172 submissions from 31 countries, with architects and engineers from as far afield as China, Australia, Chile, and India coming forward with a range of different designs. The entries have now been whittled down to a shortlist of four.

The shortlisted teams (in alphabetical order) are:

• Atelier Zündel Cristea, Paris
• Mott MacDonald with Moxon Architects, Altrincham and London
• Toby Savage Design Limited with Wolfgang Buttress Studio and LDA Design, Stockport
• Tonkin Liu Limited with Arup, London

Held jointly by Salford City Council and RIBA, the competition looks to open up the untapped green space at the Meadows to local residents and students. The site for the new bridge – The Meadows – covers around seven hectares and forms the northern section of the Irwell River Park (IRP) project.

IRP is set to be an international destination involving a partnership between Salford, Manchester and Trafford councils and will be the catalyst for major economic expansion in the area. The bridge is the next step in the IRP project, and is expected to be an iconic creation linking The Crescent (A6) with The Meadows.

IRP will be an international waterfront destination. The project, involving a partnership between Salford, Manchester and Trafford councils, will be the catalyst for major economic expansion in the area as it seeks to link up £3 billion of investment through greater use of the River Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal.

And three new bridges have already been built across the Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal, as part of plans to improve direct connections at key sites across Salford such as MediaCityUK and Greengate, alongside a bridge link to Manchester at Spinningfields.

The new bridge will play a crucial role in connecting these areas of Salford to the £650 million redevelopment of Salford Central near to the University of Salford, including the £10 million transformation of Chapel Street, and some of the city’s beautiful green spaces.

The Judging Panel included Renato Benedetti, McDowell + Benedetti acting as the RIBA Adviser, and Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart.

Stewart said: “The amount of entries we had and the range of countries they were from is a testament to Salford’s reputation as a modern global city. Professionals from around the world want to make a contribution to Salford’s growth.”

They Mayor continued, “the entries we have chosen are truly visionary for what they could offer to Salford. The bridge we hope to build here will be a crucial part of the area’s future. Huge investment is going into Salford Central and the Chapel Street area – an iconic bridge with a global reputation will sit perfectly with that.”

Benedetti announced, “We were overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of the submissions received, especially with the international nature of the response and the wide variety of approaches taken. This made our job as Judging Panel members more interesting and challenging and the four selected schemes are certainly worthy examples of Salford City Council’s aspirations for the project and the wider urban context.”

The shortlisted teams will now meet the full judging panel at a final interview in November after which an overall winner will be selected.

Footbridge Conference 2014

Footbridge Conference 2014

The deadline for submissions to the Footbridge 2014 Conference, which takes place in London in July, is fast approaching. The conference, which attracts participants from the world over, has established itself as an international conference highlight for anyone engaged in the design, construction and maintenance of footbridges.

This year’s theme is Footbridges: past, present & future, and is supplemented by the following topics:

• Historical and heritage structures
• Dynamic response and structural behaviour
• Inspirations in footbridge design
• Planning, design and construction of sustainable footbridges
• Advances in materials technology for footbridge construction
• Future directions in footbridge design and construction

The deadline for abstract submissions is September 30. The international scientific committee will review all abstracts and papers with a view to maintaining the high quality of presentations already established in previous conferences, and hopefully setting a new benchmark for future events in the Footbridge series.

To submit an abstract, visit the Footbridge 2014 website at:

Important dates:

• September 30, 2013, Deadline for submission of abstracts
• December 2, 2013, Notification of provisional acceptance
• February 3, 2014, Deadline of submission of full papers
• March 31, 2014, Notification of paper acceptance
• July 16-18, 2014, Conference

Los Angeles: FCC begins construction work on $650 million replacement bridge

desmond bridge

Spanish infrastructure and environmental services group, FCC, has begun work to replace the historic Gerald Desmond Bridge in Los Angeles. Built in the 1960s, it currently carries more than 15% of the waterborne cargo traffic of the United States.

Upon completion, it will have the tallest span height for a cable-stayed bridge in the US. FCC workers are currently carrying out test piling on both sides of the existing bridge, and have demolished the Pier T Avenue – an auxiliary access ramp.

FCC was awarded the $650m (£400m) design and build contract in July 2012 as part of a joint venture with local group Shimmick Construction Company Inc (40%) and the Italian company Impregilo SpA (30 %). Employing over 3,000 workers, the full project will take four years to complete with the replacement bridge due to be completed in 2016.

The new bridge will be cable-stayed, 305 metres long, with 61 metres of vertical clearance above the Back Channel of the Port of Long Beach. The bridge will have three motor vehicle lanes in each direction, emergency lanes on both sides for additional safety, and cycle and pedestrian lanes.

The new bridge will improve traffic flow, increase safety, and have a highly positive impact on the economy of southern California. The replacement bridge will be built adjacent to the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge, which will remain open and in service until the new span is completed.

San Francisco Celebrates New Bridge in Vintage Style

san fran bridge vintage cars world infrastructure news

A convoy of vintage cars has marked the official opening of the new $6.4 billion east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in California. The cavalcade took place on September 2nd in scenes reminiscent of November 1936 when the Bay Bridge was first opened to traffic almost exactly 75 years ago.

The new east span replaces the original structure which was damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, and its design is informed by analysis carried out by seismology experts. It is believed to be resilient enough to have withstood any of the earthquakes that have occurred at its location over a 1,500 year period.

Some 12 years in the planning and construction stages and beset with delays and over-spends, the authorities are happy to see it finally up and open to commuters. In an article in The Times, Steve Heminger, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission stated, “Despite the journey’s length, it has been completed before the arrival of our next big earthquake. And thank goodness for that.”

With its striking looks, the bridge is also being hailed as a major new work of public art. So much so that motorists have been warned to keep their eyes firmly on the road and let their passengers take the photos and video clips as they cross.

Pedestrians and cyclists were able to use a partially completed 15.5 ft wide cycle/pedestrian path which opened on September 3rd.

Thai Villagers Unite to Build Floating Bamboo Bridge

Mon Bridge world infra news

Thailand’s longest wooden bridge was completed this Thursday – by the residents of the two towns it connects. The previous “real” bridge, Saphan Mon, is said to have collapsed on July 28 after heavy rains and strong currents caused a build-up of weeds around its support struts.

500 residents of the Sangkhla Buri district then took part in building a temporary floating bridge of bamboo, which now spans the Song Kalia river. The collapse had caused a devastating dividing effect on local communities.

The construction of the 450m bridge, which was expected to require two to three weeks, took only six days. This, according to the Mayor of tambon Wang Ka Municipality Pakorn Noikate, was thanks to the desire and determination of locals – including Thais and ethnic Mon people – to demonstrate community strength and unity.

The new bridge was constructed under supervision from the abbot of Wat Sang Wiwekkaram, who also arranged for the donation of extra bamboo after concerns were raised there wouldn’t be enough to finish the job. The new bridge will be open to the public after achieving the required safety clearance.

Richard Greenan

Network Rail Scotland to offer the public a view from the Forth Bridge

129 East Elevation

One of the world’s most iconic rail bridges, the Forth Bridge in Scotland, will become publicly accessible for the first time by 2015 under newly revealed plans by Network Rail Scotland.

The £12-£15 million proposals are for a visitor centre and viewing platform to be linked by a glass lift in North Queensferry, with a smaller pod-type base to facilitate guided walks to the top of the south tower in South Queensferry. Spanning the Forth Estuary, the bridge opened in 1890. The main structure runs 1,630 metres from portal to portal, and its highest point – where the proposed viewing platform will be – is 110 metres from high water to top. It currently carries 200 trains per day, which equates to 3 million passengers per year.

Foyer View North Queensferry

David Simpson, route managing director, Network Rail Scotland comments, “After 10 years spent restoring the bridge to its full glory, and in advance of the application for world heritage listing, these plans will offer the public the chance to visit the bridge and see it ‘close-up’ for the first time. We are hugely excited by these proposals and believe that they have the potential to be developed into an important new visitor attraction for Scotland.

“While these plans are still at development stage, we believe that the options we have revealed today can be delivered without impacting the well loved view of the bridge. Any infrastructure on the bridge will be less visible than the existing scaffold platform and all buildings designs will be of premium quality.

“It’s an ambitious target, but we’d love to see these plans at least partially realised by 2015 to coincide with the bridge’s 125th anniversary. Any profits from the two facilities would be reinvested into the upkeep of the bridge.”

North Queensferry from water

Network Rail will now begin developing designs in consultation with relevant authorities and local communities, with information on the proposals available at:

A first for New Zealand as pioneering river crossing lifts off

700LOWER HATEA BRIDGE_openfromside (2)

The spectacular NZ$32 million Lower Hatea Crossing in New Zealand has just been officially opened by Whangarei MP Phil Heatley, tribal elders and local dignitaries. Although the bridge has already been in use by the public for a month, the launch celebrations have helped showcase this exceptional project to the world. The occasion was marked by a powhiri – a Mauri welcoming ceremony – and a flotilla of boats.

A team of specialist engineering consultants has been instrumental in creating the bridge, which posed particular challenges because it traverses the PoheIsland landfill site and deep marine sediments that required solutions to unpredictable settlement. It is based on a traditional rolling bascule design, the first of its kind in New Zealand. At 265m long and 17m wide, it spans a tidal river estuary and is intended to reduce congestion in the city centre – carrying up to 8,000 vehicles per day – and improve access to Whangarei Heads and the airport. Its 25m wide lifting section is designed to allow yachts and other river traffic of taller than 7.5m to transit the bridge.

The eye-catching curved ‘J’ shapes featured on the section are an interpretation of the fishhook motif popular in Mauri culture, and the bridge is officially named Te Matau a Pohe – ‘the fishhook of the Pohe’. Martin Knight of Knight Architects who designed the bridge comments, “Function and form, engineering and architecture, are perfectly integrated and completely indivisible in this design.”


Client: Whangarei District Council
Structural Engineer: Peters & Cheung
Architect: Knight Architects
Mechanical, Hydraulic and Electrical Engineer: Eadon Consulting
Road Engineer: NCC Consulting Engineers ,
Lighting Design: Speirs & Major
Contractor: McConnell Dowell / Transfield

Gail Taylor