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Bridge award raises regard for history

Thorverton Bridge, Devon

Built in 1908, this earliest example of a reinforced concrete arch bridge in Devon used the methods of Kahn and Hennebique.

The most economical scheme to strengthen the reinforced concrete bridge over the River Exe was to cast two new reinforced concrete arches between two pairs of existing arches.

The bridge was reopened to two way traffic in May 1997 after a six month renovation Warwick contractors with Pitchmastic as subcontractore. Devon County Council designed the scheme.

‘It is a very early reinforced concrete bridge and great attention to detail was paid in trying to reproduce the original state of the bridge,’ said Paxton who was one of four judges.

A Glut of bridge renovations have resulted from the introduction of higher permitted vehicle weights for bridges.

As part of the national highway bridge assessment and strengthening programme, renovations of bridges over 30 years old have taken place, with mixed results.

The Historic Bridges award was launched this year to promote tasteful, economic and innovative renovation of historic bridges.

‘We have seen some horrendous jobs recently on several important historic bridges which have entirely lost the original structure. We feel that the incentive of a prestigious, well publicised award scheme would encourage engineers to produce high quality, innovative renovation of bridges,’ said chairman of the ICE’s panel for historical engineering works, Professor Roland Paxton.

Some 24 schemes were submitted and four were chosen for outstanding engineering and choice of materials which preserved the original design of the bridge.

ICE President Roger Sainsbury was due to present the awards on at Great George Street on Wednesday.

Sponsors of the award were English Heritage, Railtrack and British Waterways.

Three other schemes were highly commended: Tower Bridge Road - bridge 71 in London; St Olaves Bridge strengthening in Norfolk and High Bridge rehabilitation near Burton on Trent.

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