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ICE Wales Cymru awards: Made in Wales

ICE Wales Cymru recently held its 2014 awards event. Here the winning projects and individuals are celebrated.

Studies and Research Award

Mario project

Mario project

The Studies & Research Award went to Mass Asset Recognition and Intelligent Optimisation (Mario) - a research and study project to improve local and national road condition data, carried out by Costain working with Aberystwyth University.

The need to provide objective and reliable data on road condition at local and national level is clear. Road condition is high on the political agenda and increasingly sensitive to public dissatisfaction.
Costain embarked on studies and research to provide better answers to support informed decision making, in its quest for greater efficiency in road maintenance. Road condition data must be provided in a form which commands confidence and offers reassurance on issues such as funding and procurement.

Utilising ultra-modern surveying techniques and applying cutting edge research, the team delivered a breakthrough in assessing road marking condition. This research, combined with a retroreflectivity survey, can now prioritise white line maintenance from the office.

The judges were very impressed with the application of new technology within civil engineering, saying that these technologies will prove vital for the progression of the industry in the future.

Designed in Wales Award

West underline bridge

West underline bridge

The Designed in Wales Award - for projects that have been designed in Wales, but constructed elsewhere (either in the UK or overseas) - went to Spring Bank West Underline Bridge reconstruction, a rail bridge scheme in Hull delivered for Network Rail by designer and engineer Cass Hayward and contractor J Murphy & Sons. The reconstruction of Spring Bank West Underline Bridge was an exceptionally complex project undertaken under severe time and site constraints. It could only be completed successfully by a fully committed client, designer and contractor team.

A heavily skewed 130 year old railway bridge was replaced during a short possession of the railway and the highway at Christmas 2013. The design of the new structure was so dimensionally constrained that there was no room for ballast, and special direct fixings were needed for the tracks.

The new bridge has reinforced concrete abutments that wrap around the weak existing brick walls and are founded on piles installed below the deck using a low headroom rig in an area previously riddled with services.

Possession works included demolition of the weak metal structure and installation of the new welded bridge, both using self propelled modular trailers.

The judges thought that the bespoke construction method adopted for the installation of this rail bridge within such a tight window was astounding. Credit must go to the design team and contractor for the implementation of this programme, they said.

Special Award for Heritage

Aaron Brutes bridge

Aaron Brutes bridge

Aaron Brute’s Bridge in Blaenavon received the Special Award for Heritage. The scheme removed this heritage bridge from Unesco’s endangered list of structures. It was delivered for Torfaen County Borough Council by designer and engineer Capita Property & Infrastructure, with contractor Alun Griffiths.

Aaron Brute’s Bridge, located in the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, dates from 1812 and until recently was included on Unesco’s endangered list of structures. The bridge is one of the oldest and most important iron bridges in Britain. It was closed in 2003 due to potential risk from collapse, and needed urgent action to be preserved and to provide safe pedestrian access. Site problems encountered included significant scour and partial collapse of one abutment, unstable masonry, difficult access and a fast rising river. The solution chosen for the restoration was to provide a new bridge structure carried on footings behind the existing footings and for the three cast iron arches of the original bridge to be utilised as “cladding” for the new steel bridge deck. With the retention of the original footings, the appearance and visible materials of the bridge are identical to those of the original bridge.

The judges felt the scheme was an excellent example of the way in which heritage structures can be retained for future generations, and the design was an innovative solution to a difficult problem.

Special Award for Regeneration

Pont y Ddraig

Pont y Ddraig

The Special Award for Regeneration went to Pont y Ddraig - a new pedestrian and cycling bridge in Rhyl, Denbighshire delivered for Denbighshire County Council by designer Ramboll UK and contractor Dawnus Construction.

The bridge provides a safe, traffic-free link across the Clwyd estuary. It is a practical demonstration of innovative design, pushing the boundaries of material and construction technologies to create a landmark structure central to the ongoing regeneration of West Rhyl. Pont y Ddraig is a twin bascule-style opening bridge which allows the passage of boats and yachts in and out of Rhyl Harbour, a small leisure and commercial tidal harbour 1.6km west of the tourist town’s centre.

The twin 32m glass and carbon fibre composite deck lifts via a cable system located within a 50m high stainless steel mast, resulting in a dramatic lifting sequence with decorative LED lighting, completing the iconic aspirations of the design brief.

The judges noted in particular the elegance of the design, the aspirations for the regeneration of Rhyl and the enthusiasm and tenacity of the project team leader in delivering the project.

They were very impressed by the attraction that the new bridge has already generated locally, with people coming to Rhyl to see the bridge. In addition, more boats are already using the harbour for moorings and repairs.

Innovation Award

Colwyn Bay waterfront

Colwyn Bay waterfront

The Innovation Award, for the project that best demonstrates innovative approaches, solutions or products in its delivery, went to Colwyn Bay Waterfront Project - Phase 1. This coastal defence and regeneration scheme at Colwyn Bay, for Conwy County Borough Council, was designed by Mott MacDonald and constructed by VolkerStevin, with the support of Wynn Construction.

The Colwyn Bay Waterfront Project brought together heavy civil engineering of coastal defence work with a modern regeneration scheme, delivering combined benefits for this once thriving coastal resort. By engaging the local community in the decision making, and following an innovative approach to defending the town from the threat of the sea, the two year construction activity resulted in the creation of an enlarged promenade raised above storm level, housing a new visitor centre offering new opportunities for the town.

A robust marine engineering solution was developed using 16m long sheet piles driven into the underlying mudstone with a precast concrete wall above beach level creating a new development site. A 150m rock groyne protects the beach to the west of the site, and 500,000t of marine sand were imported to replenish the beach.

The judges liked the innovative approach in the utilisation of regeneration and flood defence money in a single project. The quality of the works was impressive and the benefits to the community from the Porth Eiras building already very obvious.

The judges were also impressed with the research and modelling undertaken to justify the use of sand, rather than rock, as beach protection. This was tested and proved during the recent winter storms.

Sustainability Award

Harbour Way, Port Talbot

Harbour Way, Port Talbot

The Sustainability Award - for the project which best demonstrates the principles of sustainability - went to Harbour Way, Port Talbot. This major highway improvement was delivered for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, which was also engineer and designer, together with Arup and Costain.

The £76M scheme completes the Port Talbot Peripheral Distributor Road Scheme, and opens up sites for development as well as providing a new access for the Port Talbot steelworks. The 4.5km scheme reduces congestion in the residential area of Port Talbot and provides a relief road to the M4 motorway. The dual carriageway scheme includes a new bridge over the Swansea/London railway designed to Eurocodes, a precast arch bridge to provide access to the steelworks, and embankments rather than retaining walls. The contractor generated substantial value engineering savings, utilised 99% of the waste from the site in the construction, procured the majority of materials and supply chain within Wales and drew 87% of the workforce from Wales.

The judges noted the importance of sustainability issues and the close working relationships between all parties concerned. Liaison with a wide number of statutory bodies and the quality of the finishes was impressive.

Roy Edwards Award

Wye Bridge expansion joint

Wye Bridge expansion joint

The prestigious Roy Edwards Award - for the best outstanding design and construction of a project under £3M - was awarded to A48 Wye Bridge expansion joint rocker arm replacement, a bridge maintenance scheme near Chepstow, Monmouthshire delivered for Severn River Crossing by engineer and designer Flint & Neill and contractor Laing O’Rourke with the support of Strong Force and the Highways Agency.

Thermal movements of the Wye Bridge and Beachley Viaduct on the M48 Motorway rely upon an expansion joint at the mid-point of these structures. Two pinned rocker arms provide shear force and torsional continuity to the box girders either side of the joint while allowing thermal articulation.

Deterioration of ride quality over the joint, exacerbated by increased corrosion and wear around the pins, necessitated the development of an appropriate solution. The two sections of the bridge were jacked apart at the expansion joint, allowing the rocker arm and pins to be replaced. Trial jacking was carried out to determine any impact on the existing box girder sections. Working space was extremely limited, particularly at times of higher temperatures, and the main works were carried out during weekend road closures.

The judges were struck by the ingenuity of the solution for a replacement rocker arm which had no provision for replacement in its original design. The working conditions were extremely difficult.

George Gibby Award

The prized George Gibby Award - for the best outstanding design and construction of a project over £3M - went to Loughor Viaduct replacement, a major rail viaduct scheme near Swansea, delivered for Network Rail. The scheme was designed by Tony Gee & Partners and constructed by Carillion Rail, with the support of Mabey Bridge.

The Loughor Viaduct carries the main railway line between Swansea and Llanelli across the Loughor estuary. The route was reduced to single track in 1986 due to structural concerns.

Network Rail required a twin track replacement of the viaduct within the footprint of the existing structure. The construction method chosen reflected the sensitive nature of the site and the requirement for a limited closure of the existing track.

Piles were constructed outside the existing footprint using self-elevating platforms rather than cofferdams. New crossheads were constructed below the existing bridge deck. A steel deck with pre-fixed track and ballast was part fabricated on site and launched onto temporary supports next to the bridge.

The existing bridge deck was demolished and the new deck slid into position during a 249 hour possession. New abutments were constructed land side of the existing structure during the possession period. Elements of the historic structure were retained, preserving heritage.

The judges were impressed by the engineering solutions and ingenuity in providing the new structure while the main track remained live in such a hostile environment. The teamwork between all parties contributed to the success of the project.

Individual Recognition Award

A special Individual Recognition Award was given to Dafydd Roberts from Natural Resources Wales for his “above and beyond” community engagement on the shortlisted Fairbourne Flood Risk Management Scheme near Dollgellau.

When the judges visited the 12 shortlisted projects, they were impressed by the community engagement across all of them. But in one case, a key individual in the project team demonstrated an additional element of passion and ownership. Before the project the community was unreceptive to the planned improvements, but throughout the project delivery Roberts’ engagement with the local community - and that of the wider team - brought them on side, so much so that now they are proud that “their” scheme protected them from the severe winter storms.
Individual awards

ICE Wales Cymru chairman Norman Seward presented awards to individual civil engineers. Gwynfor Roberts was the engineering technician winner of the Ben Barr Award, sponsored by Symmons Madge, for newly professionally qualified engineer of the year; Rhian Watts and Matt Jones were joint chartered engineer winners of the Ben Barr Award.

Rhian Watts also won the Paterson Prize for the best written exercise at Professional Review by an engineer living or working in Wales. Rhys Roberts was awarded the Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by CH2M Hill and the Apprentice Academy - the joint collaboration between the ICE, training body CITB Cymru Wales and EC Harris.

  • Videos featuring shortlisted and winning projects can be seen at
  • The ICE Wales Cymru Awards 2014 were sponsored by CITB Cymru Wales, CH2M Hill, EC Harris, Alun Griffiths (Contractors), Symmons Madge Associates and YGC.


What they said about the awards

Keith Jones

Keith Jones

“The annual project awards celebrate the contribution of civil engineering to Wales and society generally by recognising schemes for their excellence in concept, planning and design, contract management and construction. This year we also introduced some new awards including one that recognises the contribution of research to the sector and one to recognise design expertise within Wales. We were pleased that the President of the Institution, Geoff French presented the awards during his recent visit to Wales.”

  • Keith Jones, director, ICE Wales Cymru

Norman Seward

Norman Seward

“I was delighted to present awards to the best of civil engineering in Wales alongside our president. My theme for this year is “partnerships” and in particular the promotion of collaborative partnerships between schools, universities and industry. I was pleased to see partnerships both between companies and with communities such a vital ingredient of the award winning schemes.”

  • Norman Seward, chairman, ICE Wales Cymru

Geoff Ogden

Geoff Ogden

“We had an unprecedented level of entries to the awards this year and the judging panel was very impressed with the community engagement and the collaborative behaviours that were in evidence within the project teams as well as the technical excellence across all schemes.”

  • Geoff Ogden,chairman, ICE Wales Cymru Project Award 2014


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