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Record span opens

Japan's massive Akashi Kaikyo bridge - the world's longest span suspension bridge - opened in May.

While under construction, it withstood the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake, although one tower and its caisson foundation moved outwards, extending the suspended span by 800mm and the overall bridge by 1.1m.

The crossing links Kobe, on Japan's main island Honshu, with the island of Shikoku, and is just over 3,911m in total, with a central span of 1,991m.

Over 25 years of planning, design and construction - across the fierce 70m deep Seto Inland Sea - has produced a typhoon and earthquake proof Y400,000M (pounds220M) road bridge with 283m tall steel towers supporting an open truss deck.

Tunnel segment sinks

One of the immersed tunnel elements for the 0resund crossing between Denmark and Sweden sank in August after a temporary steel bulkhead installed to allow the element to be towed to site failed. Investigations have shown that the accident was caused by the failure of part of a bulkhead support in one of the precast concrete tunnel bores. Work is now under way to refloat the element, with estimated delays of between four and six weeks.

Malaysia goes to town

Work has started on a 30 month project in Malaysia to build 13.5km of new road to link the development area in Manjung district in Perak with the west coast town of Lumut, north of Kuala Lumpur. Precast concrete hollow core piles of 600m and 800mm diameter are being driven 70m into poor ground to support the new 1,246m long Sungai Dingding bridge, the largest of three river crossings that make up part of the work. Consultant for the works is British firm Robert Benaim & Associates, working for HMS Perungding in Malaysia.

M'way sulphate study

The first large-scale instance of thaumasite sulphate attack has been identified on the columns of five bridges on a section of the M5 motorway in Britain. Although rare, experts said the problem could already be widespread in concrete piles and basement walls, particularly where limestone aggregate is used on sites underlain by wet clay soils. A group led by Professor Les Clark, of Birmingham University, is now looking into the problem.

West Rail stays local

Construction work for Hong Kong's largest ever single infrastructure scheme, the HK$65bn West Rail project, is being repackaged into smaller units to encourage bidding from local contractors. The high-tech light railway will link the New Territories with the new airport and city mass transit lines.

Oakland design set

San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Commission has approved an asymmetric suspension bridge and causeway to replace the earthquake vulnerable Oakland Bay eastern crossing. Construction is due to start in 2000. Lead designer is TY Lin.

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