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Week beginning 5/12 January

NCE begins its week-by-week look at what news has broken over the years with the January double issue - traditionally a quiet news week with Parliament still in recess and many construction sites yet to get back into full swing after the Christmas break.

Nonetheless, some big stories have broken in this week over the years.

In this week in 1989 NCE ran the story “Hard hats to become compulsory” in which it was revealed that regulations were to be introduced early that year to make wearing of safety helmets compulsory on construction sites in a “long awaited move” by the government to reduce the high injury and death rate in the industry.

In 1997 the story “Kincardine crossing usurps new Forth bridge prospects” revealed that delayed plans for Scotland’s second Forth road bridge were being considered all but dead following the government’s approval the previous week for a new £50M estuary crossing at Kincardine just 20km upstream.

In 2009 “Multiplex sues Mott MacDonald for £253M” was the headline for the story of the rumbling row over who should pay for Wembley stadium cost overruns and contractor Multiplex’s launch of a mammoth £253M claim against designer Mott MacDonald. It accused the consultant of failing to consider the stresses induced in the arch structure during erection in a case that was eventually settled out of court – for an undisclosed sum – but not until photocopying fees in excess of £1M had mounted up.

Other stories breaking this week included:

YearHeadlineNCE’s story
1973£35,000 prize to save Pisa towerA prize has been offered in the competition to save the leaning tower of Pisa, a project on which the Italian government is prepared to spend over £2M…
1974Beginning of the end for fixed price contractsAfter several years’ strenuous protest, the construction industry has succeeded in getting the Government to alter its firm price tendering policy. Housing and construction minister Paul Channon told the Commons that until further notice only public sector contracts lasting under one year would need to be a on firm price basis…
1975Three spans crash down as ship rams bridge piersThree spans of the Tasman bridge failed tragically on Sunday noght after a zinc carrying bulk carrier “Lake Illawarra” bumped into piers 18 and 19 and sank in a hail of falling concrete. In a ghoulishly satisfying way the bridge behaved as predicted by the designers…
1977Bromley’s theatre: a comedy of errorsAn inquiry into the building of Bromley’s prestigious new theatre/library complex will be called when the project is handed over 52 months late in February, NCE has been told. The complex, which is also millions of pounds over price, is the responsibility of the town’s borough architect’s department…
1977All BuRec designs to get independent checkAn independent technical review of all major dams under design by the US Bureau of Reclamation was ordered last week following publication of the Chadwick panel report on the failure of the bureau’s Teton dam in Idaho…
1978Why did death lift fail-safes fail?Four men were killed and five seriously injured on Monday when a passenger hoist crashed 35m down a shaft at tLittlebrook D power station site. The cable of a 1t rope-operated hoist is reported to have broken…
1980At least 42 feared dead in Azores earthquakeAt least 42 people are feared dead after an earthquake hit the Azores Islands on New Years day. The tremors reached seven on the Richter scale and brought down half the buildings in Angra do Heroismo, capital of the third largest island Terceira..
1980Stevin tightens up after shock lossesA massive purge is under way within Dutch contractor Royal Volker Stevin in the wake of just announced 1980 losses of £61M - including £5.3M on Orwell Bridge…
1984Rockies tunnel will speed railCanadian Pacific Railways this week called for tenders on its most adventurous project since the early part of the century - a $600M (£300M) tunnel and track route through the rockies, between Calgary and Vancouver in western Canada,
1986Transport doubts plague Docklands schemeUncertainties over access to the proposed £1.5bn Canary Wharf development in London’s Docklands are holding up progress on the scheme and may result in it being redesigned…
1989Hard hats to become compulsoryRegulations are to be introduced early this year to make wearing of safety helmets compulsory on construction sites in a long awaited move by the Government to reduce the high injury and death rate in the industry…
1990Corrosion hit Dartford tunnel bores to close after new bridge opensSevere chloride attack affecting the road deck of both Dartford tunnels will lead to closures once the new bridge east of London opens this summer, it emerged this week..
1992Consultants turn on DTpGuerrilla war is threatening to break out between the Department of Transport and its consultants in 1992. Ill-feeling is growing despite a conciliatory opening to the year with the DTp reinstating blacklisted consultant Mott MacDonald to its tender list after a six month ban..
1994Political row threatnes Oresund projectDesigners have stopped work on the tunnelled section of the £1.2bn Oresund crossing between Denmark and Sweden, as a political wrangle threatens to scupper the project…
1995DBFO scrapped for new Forth bridgeDesign work for a second Forth road bridge will start immediatly despite final decisions on the bridge being delayed for another two years, the Government said on Tuesday…
1997Kincardine crossing usurps new Forth bridge prospectsDelayed plans for Scotland’s second Forth road bridge are now considered all but dead following government’s approval last week for a new £50M estuary crossing at Kincardine just 20km upstream…
1998Ramsgate design lessons in limboThe UK’s worst civil engineering tragedy of the decade - the fatal collapse of the ship to shore walkway at Ramsgate in 1994 - could be repeated at any time because of the government’s failure to provide funding for an urgently needed design code…
1999Ofwat threat to water spendWater companies this week warned that spending on renewal projects risked being substationally cut if industry regulator Ofwat continued with its “fundamentally flawed” system for capping their spending…
2001ICE Council gives full support to dual membership reformICE Council has overwhelmingly backed modernisation of the Institution by giving unconditional support for dual corporate membership reforms…
2003Brighton’s West Pier too unstable to fixEmergency inspection of Brighton’s sagging Grade I listed West Pier have revealed that he 1916 Concert Hall is now too unstable to save…
2005Box beam failure blamed for ice rink collapseProgressive collapse triggered by a timber box beam failure is thought to have caused the cave-in of a German ice rink killing 15 last week. Design drawings obtained by NCE suggest that failure of a single box beam could have brought down the whole structure because of a lack of alternative load paths…
2007Cracks expose flaw in Scandanavian mega-bridgeUrgent structural repairs are being carried out to the 7.8km Oresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark after cracks were discovered in concrete at 50 different locations late last year. A flaw in the installation of the bridge’s reinforced concrete girders at the eastern to its central cable stay section has been blamed…
2008Criticisms roll in over rail debacleInquiries into the massive New Year engineering delays at Rugby and Liverpool Street stations are set to focus on Network Rail’s project management and communications. The rail operator has come in for widespread criticism for losing control of the two projects…
2009Multiplex sues Mott MacDonald for £253MThe row over who should pay for Wembley stadium cost overruns rumbled on over Christmas as contractor Multiplex launched a mammoth £253M claim against designer Mott MacDonald. It accused the consultant of failing to consider the stresses induced in the arch structure during erection…

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