The construction of bridges and elevated corridors has been a key focus area for most Asian economies. Increasingly, new technologies, designs and construction methods are being deployed during the construction and maintenance phases in order to mitigate the challenges in bridge construction. At a recent conference organised by Southeast Asia Infrastructure, leading industry stakeholders, including government agencies, contractors, consultants, financiers and technology providers, shared their experience and discussed the new innovations and challenges in bridge construction. The key takeaways are as follows…

T. Vasanthakumar, Additional Director (Bridge Management & Assessment), Engineering Services Division, Road Development Authority, Sri Lanka

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 relate to the resettlement of project-affected people, 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 is 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

The construction of projects in big cities poses challenges that should be resolved by the contractor. The use of precast segmental box girders can be a good solution to deal with time and quality constraints.

C. Sankaralingam, Vice-President and Head, Special Projects, L&T Construction

L&T Limited is now focusing on the Indian market, with its portfolio including major projects such as the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge in Assam, the 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 past two decades as the form of bridges has changed, with a larger proportion of them being precast off-site. Parametric modelling is a highly effective tool for coming up with a quick design for a bridge, which then facilitates the creation of a detailed design much more quickly.

Patrice M. Pelletier, Deputy CEO,OSMOS Group SA

The pillars of structural health monitoring include 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 the Philippines is expected to be completed by December 2023.  The bridge section comprises a 320 metre long extradosed-type main bridge and a 1,920 metre long PSC box girder approach bridge with two lanes. The reverse circulation drill, PC house and climbing form methods are being used for the foundation and substructure of the bridge. Besides, an incremental launching method for the approach bridge, a free cantilevering method for the main bridge and a multi-strand method for cables will be used.

Satheesh Sundararajan, Lead Infrastructure Finance Specialist, The World Bank

Asset recycling helps in raising funds from 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, The World Bank

Australia’s five-year asset recycling programme generated proceeds of over $30 billion for reinvestment 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 being undertaken across different infrastructure assets.

Iwan Pribadi, Global Growth Director, Construction, Bentley Systems

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

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

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

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

The use of high performance concrete with reduced permeability is the topmost mitigation strategy with respect to corrosion management. Epoxy-coated reinforced 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, NHAI

Land acquisition has been a major issue in the development of expressway corridors due to their greenfield nature. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been working in coordination with different agencies, ministries and state governments to expedite approval processes. Five greenfield expressways have been planned for construction under Phase I of the Bharatmala Pariyojana, and eight other expressways have been planned for construction under Phase II of the programme.

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

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

Uttam Sen, Deputy Director, LEA Associates South Asia

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

Manish Kapil, Commander 21 BRTF Joint Director, Bridges and Tunnels, BRO

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 such as the Bharatmala Pariyojana and the Char Dham Pariyojana. The BRO has recently 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

The strengthening of concrete structures can be ensured using fibre-reinforced polymer, which is available in prefabricated plates, fabrics and post-tensioned systems. It has been in existence in India for the past seven to eight years. There is immense scope for innovation in bridge maintenance and safety in the area of structural health monitoring, where technology and experience join hands to provide ingenious solutions.