Exploring innovations in bridge design and construction

Construction of bridges and elevated corridors has always been a focus area for most Asian economies. In order to mitigate the challenges in bridge construction, new technologies, designs and construction methods are being increasingly deployed during the construction as well as maintenance phase. At a recent conference organised by Southeast Asia Infrastructure and Indian Infrastructure magazines, different industry stakeholders including government agencies, contractors, consultants, financiers and technology providers shared their experience and discussed about the new innovations and challenges in bridge construction.

Key takeaways…

T Vasanthakumar, Addl. Director (Bridge Management & Assessment), Engineering Services Division, Road Development Authority, Srilanka

  • New techniques and technologies are being used for bridge and expressway construction. Balanced cantilever construction is being done using precast elements as well as cast in situ constructions.
  • Some of the key challenges in bridge construction include resettlement of people affected by the project, land acquisition, shifting of utilities and non-availability of equipment.

Nasir Hossain, Senior Application Engineer – Bridge Design (ANZ), Bentley Systems

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) helps in achieving time and cost efficiency by minimising data loss at each stage of project implementation.

Mark McConway, Managing Director and Francois Botha, Technical Director, WEB Systems International

  • Rope access is one of the safest methods of installing the web deck and web net systems.
  • Web Catch is a series of netting systems that are used in a variety of ways to protect both assets and the public from a spalling project.

Yomil Ravianda, Overseas Marketing Manager, PT Wijaya KaryaBeton Tbk.

  • Construction of projects in big cities faces challenges that should be solved by the contractor.
  • Use of pre-cast segmental box girders can be a good solution to deal with time and quality constraints.
  1. Sankaralingam, Vice President & Head – Special Projects, L&T Construction
  • L&T Limited is now focusing on the Indian market, with its portfolio including key projects like the Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge in Assam, New Ganga (Kachi Dargah) Bridge in Bihar, and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project in Maharashtra.
  • Expressway projects often face land acquisition and utility shifting issues. Hence, it is important to resolve such issues at the design and engineering stage.
  • BIM helps in resolving project-related conflicts at the design stage itself.

Michael Tapley, Bridges Leader – Asia, Aurecon

  • The bridge design process has developed significantly in the last two decades as the form of bridges has been changed with a larger proportion being pre-cast off site.
  • Parametric modelling is a highly effective tool to come up with a quick design for the bridge, which then facilitates creation of the detail design much more quickly.

Patrice M. Pelletier, Deputy CEO, OSMOS Group SA

  • The pillars of structural health monitoring include the public safety, prediction and prevention of structural issues, and budget optimisation for bridge maintenance.

Soo Young Park, Deputy Team Leader/Senior Bridge Engineer, Pyunghwa Engineering Consultants

  • The Panguil Bay Bridge project in Philippines is expected to be completed by December 2023. The bridge section comprises of 320 metres long main bridge of extra dosed type and 1,920-metre-long approach bridge of PSC Box Girder with two lanes.
  • Reverse circulation drill, PC house and climbing form methods are being used for the bridge’s foundation and substructure. Besides, incremental launching method for approach bridge, free cantilevering method for main bridge and multi-strand method for cable will be used.

Satheesh Sundararajan, Lead Infrastructure Finance Specialist, World Bank

  • Asset recycling helps in raising funds from both domestic and foreign investors, operators and project sponsors.
  • Asset recycling will address the financing gap for investment envisaged under India’s National Infrastructure Pipeline.

Shashank Shanker, Infrastructure Finance Analyst, World Bank

  • Australia’s five-year asset recycling programme generated proceeds over USD 30 billion for re-investment across metro, light rail, port and road projects.
  • The World Bank is currently involved in Indonesia’s Limited Concession Scheme – a countrywide asset recycling programme across different infrastructure assets.

Iwan Pribadi, Global Growth Director – Construction, Bentley Systems

  • As the demand for infrastructure continues to expand, so does the project complexity. Project size and design complexity have been increasing as new design tools have enabled more sophisticated designs.
  • The digital twin technology including 4D planning, tracking, logistic, and performance management helps in improving safety, predictability, and quality of the project delivery, allowing contractors to save more money and win more projects.

Allan G. Alfon, President, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation

  • The 8.6 km Cebu Cordova Link Expressway, connecting Cebu City to Cordova, is expected to be substantially completed by December 2021.
  • Girder launching gantry has been specifically designed for this project and used to lift and install NU-girders high above the deck of approach viaduct.

Dr. Lakshmy P., Chief Scientist, Bridge Engineering and Structures Division, Central Road Research Institute

  • Use of high-performance concrete with reduced permeability is the top-most mitigation strategy with respect to corrosion asset management.
  • Epoxy-coated reinforcing steel has been the most popular choice among transportation agencies to deal with the problem of premature bridge corrosion.
  • Stainless steel is a popular option for reinforcement in extremely harsh environments. It is also exceptionally adherent, inert and self-repairing.

Ravinder Kumar, General Manager, National Highway Authority of India

  • Land acquisition has been a major issue in development of expressway corridors due to their greenfield nature.
  • NHAI has been working in coordination with different agencies, ministries and state governments to expedite approval processes.
  • Five greenfield expressways have been planned under Phase 1 of Bharatmala Pariyojana. In addition, eight expressways have been planned under Phase 2 of the programme.

Kyaw Kaung Cho, Deputy Director General, Department of Bridge, Ministry of Construction, Myanmar

  • Six packages spanning about 2,409 km length will be implemented on priority for development of expressway road network in Myanmar.
  • There are seven ASEAN highway networks in Myanmar which directly connect to India, Thailand, China and Laos.

Uttam Sen, Deputy Director, LEA Associates South Asia

  • Numerous long-span bridges are being constructed now. Segmental construction is widely being used throughout the country.
  • A bridge health monitoring system has been installed in the newly constructed Majerhat Bridge in Kolkata. Many vital parameters such as stay cable force and vibration, deck vibration, temperature, humidity and wind speed, movement and rotation of bearings, and deflection of pylon are being captured on a regular basis.

Manish Kapil, Commander 21 BRTF Joint Director, Bridges and Tunnels, Border Road Organisation

  • Site selection for bridge projects is essential in hilly and earthquake prone areas because of their specific geological conditions.
  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is currently focusing more on long-span bridges under programmes like Bharatmala Pariyojana and Char Dham Pariyojana.
  • BRO has recenty completed a 440-metre micro-pile foundation bridge. This is a first of its kind project in India and has been completed in a period of four years.

Sitharama Sagi, Managing Director, IDDC Engineers

  • Efficient strengthening of concrete structures can be ensured using fibre reinforced polymer, which is available in prefabricated plates, fabrics as well as post-tensioned systems. It has been in existence in India since the last 7-8 years.
  • Immense scope for innovation in bridge maintenance and safety lies in the area of structural health monitoring, where technology and experience join hands to give ingenious solutions.