25 - 26 Nov | America Square Conference Centre

The Future of Bridges

Key event highlights:

  • Dedicated half day seminar focused on the monitoring and maintenance of existing structures
  • Exploring innovation in materials, access and technology
  • A vibrant meeting place for the key stakeholders in the supply chain – clients, consulting engineers, contractors, architects and specialist suppliers
  • In depth analysis of a number of high-profile bridge projects, including existing assets and new builds

Monday 25th November 2019

Pre-Conference Seminar
Monitoring & Maintenance
Innovation and best practice in the maintenance of existing assets

13.00 -  Registration and refreshments

13.20Welcome and introduction

13.25KEYNOTE: The bridge monitoring and maintenance strategy of Transport Scotland

  • How is maintenance planned, prioritised and executed?  
  • How can engineers and contractors, and others with the supply chain, support this strategy?  
  • Working with partners in the supply chain
  • Next steps and plans for the future…

Hazel McDonald, chief bridge engineer, Transport Scotland

13.55Design for operation and maintenance

In 2017 the SCI’s Steel Bridges Group held a workshop primarily aimed at main contractors involved in construction and maintenance operations as well as client organisations. The workshop sought to identify the problems they face throughout the lifecycle of bridge projects and investigate what can be done to make steel bridge solutions more competitive, easier to procure and more appealing from a whole life perspective.  The single greatest issue raised was the need for more cognisance of operational and maintenance priorities in the design of new bridges.  The SBG has therefore surveyed all the key UK bridge owning organisations to identify the steel bridge maintenance issues that cost them the most.  The results of this survey are still being collected but will be available by the time of the conference.  The aim of the SBG is to prioritise their future guidance and technical advice based on the results of the survey with a view to ensuring that the next generation of steel bridges leave a much improved O&M legacy.  The presentation will share the collated results of the industry survey and explain the direction of travel for future SBG guidance.  
Andrew Hodgkinson, senior member, SCI Steel Bridges Group & director, Hewson Consulting

14.25Structural health monitoring: Insights into SHM on the Queensferry Crossing & Forth Road Bridge

Fast evolving digital technology is increasingly being adopted in the monitoring and maintenance of bridges. Structural Health Monitoring, supported by advanced cloud based data analytics is becoming the norm for major bridges. These systems lead to safer, more reliable and resilient structures with longer service lives. Automated monitoring, data processing and reporting allow bridge engineers to use the full power of big data analytics whilst remaining focused on making better decisions at the right time.  Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can now allow the near future behaviour of structures to be accurately predicted.   This session will look at the SHM solution deployed on the modern classic Forth Road Bridge and the iconic Queensferry Crossing. The session will look at what needs to be measured and monitored, how data is processed into information and insight needed to make decisions, automated monitoring, reporting, alerts, and predictive analytics.  The session will also consider how such systems could be deployed on more routine structures.

Ewan Angus, major bridges director, Amey

14.55Case study: Nene Bridge pier strengthening

Nene Bridge, Peterborough is an award-winning structure, 155m in length and spanning the River Nene and Peterborough-March railway line. This innovative project has enhanced the aesthetics of the unique V shaped piers whilst providing a practical solution to strengthen the structure, replace the bearings and futureproof for maintenance works.  This talk will showcase the innovative engineering solutions deployed, the whole life cost benefits gained, plus the advanced survey and 3D modelling techniques that supported the successful delivery of the project, on time and on budget.

Tim Henson, senior engineer, Skanska

15.25 -  Break for refreshments & networking

15.55Case study: Humber Bridge hanger replacement and testing

The Humber Bridge is an iconic Grade 1 Listed structure which remains one of the longest single span suspension bridges in the world, connecting the East Riding of Yorkshire with North Lincolnshire.  This session will discuss the project to test three of the hanger cables, that connect the deck to the main suspension cable.  We will look at the analysis and identification of the hangers to be tested, together with the works involved in the design, fabrication and installation of the temporary works that facilitated the safe and effective exchange of the hangers.  The speaker will also discuss the testing procedures that were deployed, how the condition of the hangers was assessed and how this informed the strategy for intervention on the remaining hanger cables.

Andrew Arundel, head of engineering & infrastructure, Humber Bridge Board

16.25Monitoring the effectiveness of dehumidification on suspension bridges

Jim Mawson, head of operational delivery, Cleveland Bridge

16.35PANEL: How competent are your inspectors?  What can be done to improve inspector competency?

  • Conventional methods vs. modern techniques eg. drones, remote monitoring
  • Improving the consistency of reporting across the various agencies – local authorities, Network Rail, Highways England etc
  • Repair techniques for commonly identified issues that inspectors can, and should, execute
  • How can we increase the take up of the Sector Scheme Certification?  


  • Joanna Bonnet, director, COWI
  • Kevin Dentith, chief engineer – bridges & structures, Devon County Council
  • Richard Fish, technical secretary, Bridge Owners Forum
  • Hamish Harvey, director, Bill Harvey Associates
  • Tony Nicholls, professional head of structures, Connect Plus (M25)

17.15Forth Road Bridge: Maintenance for the future

Angus will discuss a variety of maintenance and refurbishment works undertaken by Amey since they took over maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge in June 2015, specifically looking at recurring themes of safe access and sustainability.

Angus Bruce, major bridge manager – forth road bridge, Amey

17.45Closing remarks from the chair

17.50 - Close of seminar

Tuesday 26th November 2019

Main Conference
The Future of Bridges
Exploring innovation in the design, construction, monitoring and maintenance of bridges

07.30Registration opens

07.45Breakfast Briefing: A deep dive into the Heads of the Valleys A465 Gateway Arch (45 mins)

The A465 Trunk Road provides a vital east-west connection to, from and between the heads of the South Wales Valleys. The improvements involve the dualling of the road, and the addition of several road bridges, foot bridges and retaining walls. The Jack Williams Gateway Bridge is a key feature of the section 2 route, spanning 118m across the road below, in a sensitive environment including World Heritage Status, SAMs, SSSIs and Conservation Areas. This session will feature contributions from the architects, engineers and contractors.

Rachel Mitchell, senior group engineer, Atkins  
Tom Osborne,
director, Knight Architects
Arran Wharton,
project manager, Costain
Matthew Lloyd,
agent, Costain

08.30 Launch of the Graduate Challenge: Design a Carbon Neutral Bridge

08.45Opening remarks from the chair

Mark Hansford, editor, New Civil Engineer

08.50KEYNOTE 1: The future of bridge engineering

What does the future hold for bridge design and construction? Given that we design our bridges for a design life of at least 100 years, what confidence have we that they will still be appropriate then? How might new materials and new technologies change the look of our bridges? And how can we ensure that what we build brings delight and pleasure instead of ugliness and mediocrity? 

Ian Firth, director & consulting structural engineer, COWI

09.15 KEYNOTE 2: Envisioning the future - off site vs. in situ construction

This is an exciting time for bridge designers and constructors, with rapidly evolving technology, and innovations in access and materials.  In situ construction has been the norm, but increasingly off-site strategies can be seen to offer advantages in terms of cost, derisking projects, improved health and safety and reduced impact on congestion and the local economy.  But off-site modularisation also raises challenges, in terms of challenging the conventional mindset, more emphasis on pre-project planning and the adoption of new digital technologies.  Is off-site construction always the answer?  If not, then when should off-site be preferred over in-situ?  Keith – the government’s construction tsar – will consider this debate and show how we are moving towards a model where government procures on best value rather than just best price.  He will also share some examples of success (and failure) to illustrate his points.  

Keith Waller, programme director, Construction Innovation Hub

09.40Why did the Morandi Bridge collapse and what can we learn from it?   

Tullia Iori, professor of architectural engineering, University of Roma Tor Vergata

10.10Learning the lessons of the Florida International University footbridge disaster

The FIU Pedestrian Bridge was designed as a two-span cable-stayed concrete truss with a post-tensioned slab acting as the tie and post-tensioning in the truss diagonals. The truss deck for the main span, constructed off-site, was moved to its final location via self-propelled modular transporters (SPMT’s) and subsequently lowered onto its bearings on March 10, 2018. Five days later, the uncompleted bridge collapsed onto the roadway killing six people and injuring many others. This presentation aims to provide an outline description of the structure, to detail the sequence of events leading to the collapse, to share the up to date findings of the US National Transportation Safety Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations into the collapse and to discuss what we can learn from the collapse.

Akram Malik, group director, Tony Gee & Partners

10.40  Morning break for refreshments & networking

11.10PANEL: Exploring materials and manufacture innovation: Driving sustainability and durability in bridge design

New materials

  • Fibre reinforced concrete for ultra-high performance
  • Advanced composites
  • - Plastics and fibre reinforced polymers
  • - Carbon fibre (can we expect the cost of it to come down?)
  • - Kevlar cables
  • High tensile steel
  • Using different concretes in the cover zone only to improve protection to reinforcement without needing to use the same enhanced concrete throughout

New manufacturing methods

  • Additive manufacturing and 3D printing
  • Enhanced manufacture to allow optimised shapes to be created that minimise materials

Low Carbon

  • Low carbon materials – applications and limitations

Durability improvements

  • Graphene coated steel

David Knight,
director, CAKE Industries
Joanna Bonnet,
director, COWI
Martin Richardson,
general manager, Lifespan Structures
Ioanna Papanikolaou,
business development manager, Costain & PhD University of Cambridge
Satbir Gill, chairman,
London Technical Advisors Group (LoTAG) & member, UK Bridge Board

11.55PANEL: Clients and bridge owners – perspectives and projects

  • What commitments are being made to asset management in terms of spending and budgets given degrading structures?
  • How are we going to move towards more sustainable construction and integrated structural health monitoring?  
  • How can procurement processes be modified to involve the whole supply chain?  
  • Incorporating tier 2 contractors (for example steel fabricators) to accommodate BIM level 2
  • What big projects are coming through, or on the horizon?

Richard Fish,
technical secretary, Bridge Owners Forum
Elaine Gazzini,
technical & programme director, Connect Plus (M25)
Sharan Gill,
principal engineering leader – infrastructure protection, Transport for London
Hazel McDonald,
chief bridge engineer, Transport Scotland
Chris Talbot,
principal engineer - structures, Network Rail

12.40 Lunch

14.00 Graduate Challenge: Design a Carbon Neutral Bridge

Selected teams will present their solutions to the panel of judges, focusing on materials and manufacturing processes, to design a sustainable and durable bridge. This session is open to all who wish to attend.

14.00Case study: Design and construction of the Northern Spire Bridge, Sunderland

The Northern Spire is a landmark new bridge dominating Sunderland’s skyline, which opened in August 2018. It is central to a new strategic road linking the A19 to Sunderland city centre and Port of Sunderland.  The cable stayed bridge includes a 105m high A-frame steel pylon that was transported in one piece by sea and river to site, before being raised into position during a carefully coordinated two-day operation. The 330m deck was built alongside and launched across the river.  The £117 million project was funded by the UK Government and Sunderland City Council. In May 2015, the Council awarded the main construction contract to FVB, an international joint venture set up by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction and the Design Joint Venture of Roughan & O’Donovan Consulting Engineers and BuroHappold Engineering.

Simon Fryer, technical director, Buro Happold
Stephen McCaffery, project director, Farrans - Victor Buyck JV

14.30Update on the Design Manual for Roads & Bridges for structures standards

Highways England have been reviewing and updating all its structural standards.  This session will provide the latest information, outline what’s new and when it will be published, and how it is being implemented. 

Neil Loudon, group manager – structures, Highways England

14.50Case study: Innovation from design through to construction on East West Rail

Phase 2 of the of the Western Section of East West Rail will reinstate and upgrade railway lines between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.  Amongst other things, it will involve installing 8 new over bridges, and 22 new footbridges and subways.  The design and engineering for these new bridges is a showcase for innovation and forward thinking, with off-site modularisation and fabrication, advanced BIM modelling, the integration of structural health monitoring and the use of advanced materials.  

Chris Mundell, director, Atkins & James Oliver, engineering manager, EWR Alliance (Laing O-Rourke)

15.20  Afternoon break for refreshments & networking

15.50Case study: Challenges in the construction and engineering of the Lille Langebro, Copenhagen

Following an international design competition, Realdania appointed Buro Happold, Wilkinson Eyre and Eadon Consulting to design a new movable bridge across the Copenhagen Harbour. The concept was for an elegant, low lying crossing, that incorporates two swinging spans to provide a navigable watercourse for shipping. The bridge’s sweeping form demanded precise standards of design detailing and fabrication. An engineering innovation incorporated a moment connection between the movable spans, which helped minimize the bridge’s primary structural depth. The construction of the bridge has entailed a number of challenges, but was successfully completed in July 2019.

Davood Liaghat, head of bridge engineering & civil structures, Buro Happold
Simon Roberts,
associate director, Wilkinson Eyre
Michael Thorogood,
director, Eadon Consulting

16.20 Winner of the Graduate Challenge announced

Judges will review the various submissions and announce the winning team.  

16.30Closing keynote: The future of bridge architecture

Wherever we are in the world we associate bridges with a sense of place and this helps to explain the popular appeal of bridge design.  This is equally true for extraordinary, ‘iconic’ structures as for the ‘Beautiful Ordinary’ bridges which form the backdrop to everyone’s everyday lives.  Infrastructure is for people, who benefit from thoughtful and sensitive design, yet too often we focus on the technical aspects, forgetting why a project is needed and who it will serve.   The future of bridge design will see collaborative working in projects of all types and all scales, involving communities and clients, engineers and architects, to ensure the social, economic and environmental benefits of bridge design are fully realised.

Martin Knight, managing director, Knight Architects

16.55Closing remarks from the chair


17.00Close of conference

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