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Crossing the next bridge


After 10 years of addressing issues important to the bridge sector, the Concrete Bridge Development Group is looking to the future.

Colin Cleverley reports.

Back in 1992 the British Cement Association brought together 36 enthusiastic bridge engineers, and the Concrete Bridge Development Group (CBDG) was formed.

Today it has no less than 120 members, largely composed of the major players in bridge design, construction and management, and is established as the voice of the industry on all matters appertaining to concrete bridges.

In March this year, to mark its 10th anniversary, a special CBDG council meeting was held to review the achievements of the past decade and, more importantly, to plan for the future. The review continued right through the summer, culminating in a work agenda which included IT dissemination, materials, guidance on new Eurocodes and new design guides, but which was topped by sustainability in bridge design and construction.

What made the March council special was the presence of former CBDG chairmen and, representing national bridge owners, Alan Pickett of the Highways Agency and Railtrack's Brian Bell. Both Pickett and Bell were keen to emphasise that the CBDG had indeed played a significant and increasingly important role in addressing important issues on behalf of the bridge industry.

Achievements included:

Playing a major part in responding to the then Department of Transport's 1992 ban on the continued use of grouted internal post-tensioning. The result was a much improved grouting specification and modus operandi that led to the lifting of the ban;

Providing much needed information in sensitive areas such as whole life costing, integral bridge design and design details;

Funding nearly £100k of research; and

Supporting the Highways Agency in updating selected codes and standards and reviewing others producing influential advisory publications on such topics as aesthetics, the use of fibre composites, and durability testing producing educational material for students of all ages, and running an annual design competition.

Building on this foundation, existing and new CBDG task groups will be tackling the programme of works agreed this year. An existing group will look at how sustainability issues can be related directly to bridge design and construction. Work has already begun on an evaluation of new technology in concrete-making materials, especially self-compacting and high strength concretes.

Integral bridges, which offer a longer maintenance-free life, are being studied by a new task group. This will have a dedicated page on the CBDG website to allow all members to contribute ideas and views online.

Work has also started on guidance and advice notes to help engineers come to terms with the 2005 introduction of EC2 Part 2.

More design guides are in the pipeline, with integral bridges, post-tensioned construction to TR 47, fast construction and adaptable structures on the top topic list.

The next 10 years therefore promise to be an effective and invigorating period, and the CBDG is ready to lead the industry into these exciting times.

INFOPLUS www. cbdg. org. uk

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