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Letters to the editor

Tunnel integral to Stonehenge road

I find Mark Whitby's criticism of Terry Mulroy's comments on the funding of the environmental aspects of the Stonehenge Tunnel project extraordinary.

When the Lottery was first promoted, Government was at great pains to emphasise that the Government's share of the proceeds would not go to fund main programmes, but to support new initiatives that would otherwise not receive funds.

Government has now produced a strategy that places considerable support to public transport, and where new road schemes are proposed then environmental considerations will be strongly to the fore. If this is the strategy, then the considerable environmental costs should be part of the main programme and not be left as an 'add on' to be funded by the Lottery - a game of chance - otherwise the strategy itself becomes a lottery.

Understandably, politicians do tend to favour short term gains at the expense of a long term policy, but they do not need encouragement by the Institution. If this is to be the future presidential approach, the outlook is bleak indeed.

David Rogers (F), 8 Blackthorne Close, Solihull, West Midlands B91 1PF.

Misuse of funds

I could not agree less with your correspondent, Mark Whitby (Letters 20/27 August), who appears to put places before people in his misguided attitude to the duties of our profession.

I was trained in an age when the criterion was quality and then cost, but to accept the highest tender did not guarantee the best quality.

Mark Whitby is clearly a member of the lobby who is quite prepared to spend other people's money to satisfy a handful of environmental bigots who would rather waste the extra pounds150M cost of a tunnel under Stonehenge than provide, as an example, much needed scanner equipment for our hospitals, which presently rely on public subscriptions in many areas of the country.

The use of Lottery money for such cosmetic schemes is completely out of order and the Government should be ashamed of its support for such schemes. If 'creative accountancy' means wasting money to suit a minority lobby we are on the slippery slope to a continuous 'tail wagging the dog' situation. This may be politically expedient in the short term but should never be allowed to create an 'important precedent' as Mark Whitby claims.

Roy B Downing (M), Dellmead, Meadway, West Bay, Bridport, Dorset DT6 4HP.

Unlucky for some

Does your article on the Oresund Tunnel (NCE 20/27 August) lead me to believe that the millennium bug has now been eclipsed by the 12a bug?

Donald Watson (M), Knockbain, Tongland Road, Kirkcudbright DG6 4UT.

Design errors

Your article 'French flair' (NCE 20/27 August) suggests that elegance of form was a design priority for the twin bowstring arched steel TGV bridge with a linking 'superior arc' designed by the architect for effect.

The spans of the arches, 110m between springings, are close to Crouch & Hogg's award-winning Bonar Bridge with a span of 104m designed to carry 180t road vehicles. It was designed with a composite concrete deck since the heavy vehicle on a steel deck would have produced deflections at the quarter points of +/-300mm. Very slender lattice bracing around the arch was designed to resist winds of 200km/h.

This French bridge appears to lack elegance and good structural form for a number of reasons:

1. Each span is symmetric in basic arch form but considerable difference appears to have been adopted in the side and central springings.

2. The 'superior arc' looks like an appendage unrelated to the arch forms and their structural behaviour patterns.

3. The 'superior arc' will increase wind forces on the lateral planes of the arches and it can do little to increase the vertical stiffness of the bowstring arches. All vertical, longitudinal and lateral forces must be resolved at the bowstring arch springings.

4. Whatever finite element analysis may produce this 'superior arc' unnecessarily complicates appearance, design and construction with inevitable added cost.

5. While the introduction of a well chosen central feature in a two span bridge can be visually helpful this 'superior arc' must offend every engineer with a good sense of structural awareness.

I suppose we can expect more of this if clients allow architects to lead the bridge design team.

A Wallace, Carding Mill, Old Mill Road, Tomatin, Inverness IV13 7YW.

Bottom of the form

Excellent to see that the French placed elegance of form as a design priority (NCE 20/27 August). What a pity they didn't get it!

Ian Hunt (M), mail@giffords.cix.co.uk

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