Tuesday 23 October 2018

2nd UIC Workshop on Masonry Arch Bridges held in from 18 – 19 October 2018 in Bristol, UK

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After the first edition of the UIC Workshop on Masonry Arch Bridges which took place in Madrid in June 2018 (see e-news #603), we successfully held the second edition in Bristol.

The workshop provides the relevant results of the UIC Masonry Arch Bridges projects from 2004 to 2015, placing special emphasis on “serviceability assessment”, “determination of permissible load” and “lifetime expectancy” issues, which are included in the IRS 70778-3, published in March 2018.

We had the same enthusiastic and experienced experts as in Madrid with Dr Zoltán Orbán, Dr William Harvey, Prof Matthew Gilbert, Dr José Antonio Martín-Caro and Dr Adrienn Tomor. Only one exception: Dr Niamh Gibbons took the place of Dr Paul Fanning this time and presented in an equally competent way, adding some new information.

The opening and welcome of the participants was followed by an insight into the responsibility and role of UIC also using the UIC video “What are International Railway Solutions (IRS)?” to promote our activities (by Infrastructure Advisors David Mirayo & Harald Sattler).

After a general overview on the UIC Masonry Arch Bridges projects and the resulting IRS 70778-3 “Recommendations for the inspection, assessment and maintenance of masonry arch bridges” the participants then followed with great interest the technical presentations covering “Structural behaviour”, “Deterioration, inspection, monitoring” and “Assessment”. On the second day we caught the attention of the meeting with “Service loading & dynamic effects”, “Maintenance and repair” and selected case studies, followed by a discussion with the speakers. The contents of the individual sessions have already been described in more detail in e-news #603 https://uic.org/com/uic-e-news/603/.

Nevertheless, the workshop had several main changes compared to the first edition in Madrid. The most important is that we recorded the speeches in order to have each of the 20 speeches edited and published as a separate UIC video. The aim is to have a higher impact of dissemination, reach many experts and enable UIC and the involved public institutions to distribute the content via their communications channels. The videos will be published on our internet platform and on our various social networks. There’s little knowledge on masonry arch bridges and thus the recorded presentations are a great added value, which will underline the positive activity of UIC.

After the first day we had a rapidly organised visit of the nearby Clifton Suspension Bridge, whose towers and foundations are built in masonry. On the bridge and in its small but highly interesting visitor centre Dr Bill Harvey gave us priceless insights into the design, construction and inspection details of this landmark of Bristol.

Once again, the workshop showed that masonry arch bridges behave very differently compared to steel and concrete bridges, but on the other hand are resilient and robust constructions. Thus, they can be kept in service for a very high lifetime while producing low maintenance cost if treated in an appropriate way.

The know-how on design, construction and maintenance of these bridges has to be carefully protected, not only to protect the existing bridges but also to build new masonry arch bridges.

The workshop was followed by more than 60 participants from the UK, Spain and France, which had very fruitful discussions during the pauses and most of all in the open questions session which closed the workshop. The workshop received a very positive feedback and we plan to have the videos ready before end of the year 2018 to begin the next step of the dissemination.

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Speakers from left to right: Adrienn Tomor, Bill Harvey, Niamh Gibbons, Zoltán Orbán, José Martín-Caro, Matthew Gilbert
Clifton Suspension Bridge