Durham bridge repairs recognised for structural innovation

A project allowing essential repairs to be made to a key County Durham bridge has been recognised for its innovation by the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE).

New Elvet Bridge in Durham City reopened to vehicles and the public in October following critical works to make the bridge structurally sound. The works won the Most Innovative Project at the IStructE Northern Counties Structural Awards 2021 and also a special commendation in the Large Projects category.

Durham County Council completed the repair programme in partnership with Jacobs and Balfour Beatty. During the 15-month project, significant structural repairs saw the centre span lifted, the southern span of the bridge removed and replaced and the bridge's joints removed, repaired and recast. Additional work to improve water proofing and drainage was also undertaken to provide extra protection to the bridge for years to come.

The IstructE particularly praised the project's innovative approach to understanding the limitation of the structure in order to find the best solution to resolving those issues.

John Dixon, market director of highways at Jacobs, said: “I am immensely proud of the professionalism and dedication of the teams from Jacobs, Balfour Beatty and Durham County Council who have designed, constructed and led this complex project to successful completion.

“The value of New Elvet Bridge to the people of Durham and its economy cannot be understated. Civil infrastructure such as this provides the physical connectivity that is so vital to society, including businesses and learning institutions enabling them to thrive and innovate to meet the world's biggest challenges. The innovative design and construction techniques used to restore the bridge’s structural integrity whilst maintaining its original appearance make this a worthy winner of any award in today's world where our engineers strive to optimise economic, social and environmental benefits, including carbon, in the provision of vital infrastructure solutions."

Dan Fawcett, project manager at Balfour Beatty, said: “We're thrilled to have been recognised with this prestigious award which is testament to the dedication and innovation of our expert team, working to deliver the New Elvet Bridge. Through close collaboration with Durham County Council and Jacobs, our teams worked safely and efficiently to re-open this essential bridge as quickly as possible; providing significant long-term benefit to the local community and reconnecting Durham City for generations to come.”

John Shuttleworth, Durham County Council cabinet member for rural communities and highways, said: “New Elvet Bridge offers a vital link for people living, working in and visiting Durham and it was essential that these repairs be carried out to make the bridge structurally sound. As it was such a complex project, it is pleasing to see the works recognised by the IStructE.

“There were many different elements to the programme, with additional challenges and unforeseen repairs which needed addressing as the works progressed. However, every challenge was overcome, with the project being completed to the highest standard and we are delighted that the awards success recognises this.”

Completing the bridge repairs in time for Christmas is particularly timely as it reconnects key areas of the city after more than a year of disruption, including its cultural quarter, providing a much-needed boost for the city's campaign to become the UK City of Culture 2025.

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