Historic Devon road bridge to get cantilevered cycle lane

Plans have been approved to widen a busy road bridge in south-west England by cantilevering a cycleway and footpath from the side of the structure. The designs for the US$20.5 million scheme to widen and improve one of Exeter’s busiest commuter routes were approved by Devon County Council. Adding the cantilevered path to the bridge will allow the congested route to be widened to two traffic lanes. About US$3 million of the project costs have already been invested in the scheme design and on installing piled concrete foundations in the piers of the historic Grade II listed Countess Wear Bridge, to support the new cantilevered cycleway and walkway. This will provide the space needed on the road over the bridge to be widened to two lanes in both directions, while also improving pedestrian and cycling access. Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council cabinet member for economy and growth, said: “Upgrading this route will reduce traffic queuing at the Countess Wear roundabout which will help keep traffic moving, reduce delays and ensure reliable journey times – all of which is key to support the housing and employment development planned in and around the city. The improvements will also improve sustainable travel options.” The aim is for the scheme contract to be awarded in January 2016.

Environmental group highlights dangers of oil trains crossing neglected bridges

US environmental group the Waterkeeper Alliance has published a report saying that the growing numbers of trains carrying oil are posing a threat to ageing infrastructure. Alliance members across the USA said that they have identified significant areas of concern with 114 railway bridges along known and potential routes of what it dubs 'explosive oil trains'. The report ‘Deadly crossing: neglected bridges and exploding oil trains’ has been published by Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, Riverkeeper and a national network of Waterkeeper organisations released the exploring the condition of the country's rail infrastructure and how it is being stressed by oil train traffic. “Waterkeepers boarded their patrol boats to uncover what is happening to the structural integrity of our nation’s railway bridges, a responsibility our federal government has shirked,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. This effort was initiated out of concern for the threat posed by what the group says is a 5,000% increase in oil train traffic since 2008. “Half the bridges we looked at have potentially serious safety problems,” said Matt Krogh, ForestEthics extreme oil campaign director. “There are 100,000 rail bridges in the US  – any one of them could be the next deadly crossing. Oil trains are rolling over crumbling bridges and we can’t wait for the next derailment, spill, and explosion to act.”

Alberta restores funding for bridges

The Canadian province of Alberta is to restore funding for roads and bridges, which was cut by the previous government. The new budget published this week provides US$90 million to support rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges in Alberta’s smaller municipalities and over US$3.5 billion for projects throughout the province. The government of Alberta will begin consultations next year with municipal partners and key stakeholders to restore the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) from the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Under the restored funding, US$75 million will be made available between 2017 and 2019. In addition to STIP, the budget is investing US$3.46 billion in road and bridge projects throughout Alberta. This includes money for highway expansion, safety upgrades and large-scale projects such as the Edmonton and Calgary ring roads. “Municipal leaders have told us how important these investments are and we have heard them loud and clear,” said minister of transportation Brian Mason. “Our government is committed to investing in safe, modern, efficient infrastructure that gets people moving while driving job creation in the engineering and construction industries."

Beam lifts mark milestone for Perth highway bridge

Eight bridge beams with weights of up to 162t were installed over the weekend for the new Reid Highway Bridge in Perth, Australia. The operation heralded a milestone in the US$76 million Reid Highway duplication project, which is jointly funded by the Australian and Western Australian governments. The beams, which are up to 44.5m long, were installed over two nights using a 600t crawler crane. "When completed the new bridge will provide two lanes in each direction, resulting in immediate safety and efficiency gains, along with greater capacity in the future as traffic increases," said Paul Fletcher, the minister for major projects, territories and local government.

Kiewit begins relocation of bridge over Minnesota mine pit

Work is now officially under way on the relocation a stretch of Highway 53 in the US state of Minnesota to open up access to iron ore underneath the original route. The scheme includes a new steel bridge spanning more than 335m across the Rouchleau Mine Pit. Kiewit is general contractor for the US$156 million project, which also involves building 5km of new state highway and relocation of a recreation trail. The preferred alignment was chosen last year (link opens in new tab). The work is needed to accommodate expansion of the Cliffs Natural Resources iron ore mine in Virginia. Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) built the original road in 1960 on land owned by iron mining interests. The easement the agency signed in order to build the road included a requirement that MnDOT would move the road with three years notice if the mining company needed to get to the ore underneath. In 2010, the mining interests notified MnDOT that the road would need to be moved. Later that year, MnDOT and the mine company agreed to a 2017 date for the road to be moved. “Part of the project development process included mineral rights acquisition,” said MnDOT commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The state has purchased the mineral rights under the new alignment to ensure that MnDOT will not have to move the road again.” The project will provide more than 100 construction jobs over the next two years. The current highway will remain open until the new road is ready for traffic.

Work starts on new Portageville Arch Bridge

A groundbreaking ceremony has been held for the new Portageville Arch Railroad Bridge in the US state of New York. Construction is expected to get under way by the end of this year and the bridge should take about three years to build, said rail operator Norfolk Southern. The US$70 million project for Norfolk Southern and New York State Department of Transportation has been designed by Modjeski & Masters. The new structure replaces a 250m steel viaduct built in 1875. It carries the Southern Tier Route across the Genesee River but could no longer meet the demands of heavy rail freight. The bridge, which is also known as the High Bridge is located in Letchworth State Park in Portageville. “As with much of our infrastructure, the High Bridge was impeccably built but has reached the end of its lifespan,” said Kevin Johns, Modjeski and Masters’ project manager for the Portageville Bridge. “Modern freight cars demand a more supportive structure. We worked closely with Norfolk Southern to give them a bridge that is both engineered to last into the future and is consistent with the natural surroundings.” The new steel main arch span is 147m long, with a total project length of 250m. It will carry one track 72m above the Genesee River. “The Portageville Bridge project is located in a very picturesque setting. Modjeski and Masters’ design matches the beauty of the location,” said Howard Swanson, regional engineer structures at Norfolk Southern. “The design meets all of the needs of a modern railroad structure while being sensitive to the concerns that were raised while creating the environmental impact statement.” The existing bridge will be removed once its replacement has opened.

Poma wins contract for 5km aerial tramway

Rope transportation specialist Poma and its local partner J Fortuna have been awarded the construction contract for the first urban gondola lift in the Dominican Republic. There will be 23 towers supporting the US$67 million aerial tramway, which will cross the meandering Ozama River twice in its 5km route linking the centre and the north-east of the city of Santo Domingo. The route is designed to fly over the traffic jams that build up each day at the entrances to the bridges that are the only access roads linking the east to the centre of the city across the river. The Poma team was appointed by Urbe, which has been tasked with managing the Santo Domingo-Est development and mobility programme. The system will have a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour each way and will connect directly to the Santo Domingo Metro. Cabins will be able to hold up to 10 passengers and will travel at 5m a second. Construction work will start at the end of this year for commissioning at the end of 2016.

Deal reached on public funding cap for London’s proposed Garden Bridge

The developers of the Garden Bridge in London, England, have reached an agreement that will see more than US$30 million cut from the public money allocated towards the construction costs. The new agreement between Lambeth Council and the Garden Bridge Trust relates to funding from Transport for London (TfL) for the privately owned footbridge across the Thames. TfL’s contribution to the construction would now be limited to US$15.4 million rather than the original US$46.2 million. Any extra above this amount would be treated as a loan. Concerns about the level of public funding had resulted in Lambeth Council pulling out of negotiations concerning the southern landing site for the bridge. This week’s decision means that the negotiations will resume. The south landing of the bridge would need to touch down on land Lambeth Council owns that is currently leased to Coin Street Community Builders. The terms of the lease will need to be varied for the bridge to go ahead. The Garden Bridge Trust anticipates beginning work on site early in the New Year.

South Africa announces six-month probe into fatal bridge collapse

South Africa’s Department of Labour is to carry out a formal inquiry into this month's fatal collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction. Department of Labour chief inspector Tibor Szana said that the formal investigation would take up to six months to complete and that the department was still gathering evidence on the incident. “We don’t work with rumours, we work with facts,” he said. He said that preparation to set-up the Commission of Inquiry are under way and the name of the presiding officer would be announced soon. Szana added that at this stage the department was not apportioning any blame, but seeking to gather more facts. The outcome of the inquiry may result in prosecution based on evidence gathered. The temporary support structure collapsed on 14 October, leaving two people dead and 19 injured (link opens in new tab). Three are still in critical condition in hospital. Szana said the department has served a prohibition notice for work not to proceed on site until all safety and legislative requirements are complied with. The Department of Labour said that parties involved in the project included the City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Development Agency who were clients that appointed Royal HaskoningDHV as an agent. Murray & Roberts is the principal contractor and the supplier of material involved in the incident is Formscaff. Department of Labour acting director-general Aggy Moiloa said that Murray & Roberts had started work on 29 January this year. He added that the formal investigation into the collapse will focus on aspects including the responsibility of the client (City of Johannesburg) in terms of construction regulations; responsibility of the principal constructor in terms of the construction regulations and as an employer; the responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client in terms of the same regulations; and the supplier of the materials and design. The Department of Labour said that it was indicated that Murray & Roberts acquired materials and the design for the construction of the temporary bridge from Formscaff.  The construction of the temporary bridge was done by Murray & Roberts using design drawings by Formscaff. At the time of collapse it transpired that the installation was not yet completed; however traffic was already traversing under the structure.

Design contract awarded for 800m Australian viaduct

A joint venture of Aurecon and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff has been appointed for the design work on the US$1.2 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing project in Queensland, Australia. The scope of works includes an 800m-long viaduct built over the existing Queensland Rail line. The contract was awarded by the project’s contractor, Nexus Infrastructure, which is a consortium of Acciona and Ferrovial. The 41km-long road project is designed to provide a second crossing of the range north of Toowoomba to enable better movement of freight. It will also remove heavy freight vehicles from Toowoomba’s central business district. Other aspects of the project include a 30m-deep cutting that will be constructed as an alternative to the reference design's tunnel. This will allow all heavy vehicles, including ones carrying dangerous goods carriers, to use the new route. The scheme is expected to be completed in 2018, weather permitting.

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