Bridge Innovation: Advancements in design, engineering and construction

Advancements in design, engineering and construction

Over the last few years, there have been ad­vancements in the areas of bridge design, engineering and construction in India with the adoption of latest technology and smart construction materials. Also, by us­ing innovative assessment tools that can pre­dict the remaining life expectancy of bridges, monitoring has become much more streamlined. The upcoming bridge projects are not

on­ly aimed at connecting remote areas, but al­so becoming tourist destinations for their engineering uniqueness.

Digital technology

The bridge design and construction process has evolved significantly with the introduction of sm­art digital technologies. Building information mo­delling is one such technology, which covers the architecture, engineering as well as cons­truc­tion segments. By presenting information in 3D, it becomes easier to navigate to specific places and check for collisions. Precast segmental construction technology also gained popularity as it is used to achieve accelerated bridge construction, better quality control, and reduced life cycle cost. In addition, congested reinforcement can be handled at the ground level.

The Ministry of Road Transport and High­ways has set up a bridge monitoring system to identify the bridge assets across the country. All key features of bridges and structures, and their conditions are monitored regularly by field inspection. The majority of the long-span,

im­­portant and strategic bridges are provided with strain gauges and monitoring systems for on­line monitoring of their health and condition.

Also, maintenance of bridges has been ma­de safe and secure with a photonic monitoring system to prevent incidents. The use of high performance concrete with reduced per­me­ability is the topmost mitigation strategy with respect to corrosion management. Stainless steel is ano­ther option for reinforcement in extremely harsh environments. In addition, it is also exceptionally adherent, inert and self-repairing.

Key upcoming projects

Indian Railways is constructing a bridge on the Ch­enab river in Reasi district of Jammu & Kash­mir. It will be the highest railway bridge in the world. The most sophisticated Tekla soft­wa­re is used for structural detailing. With Tekla Str­uctures, users can create a construc­tible, parametric model, which means each object holds its own data. This data can then be used for fabrication, erection, construction on-site and asset management during the maintenance of the bridge.

The upcoming Majuli Bridge over the Brah­maputra river is being constructed using new technology. The distance between two pillars will be 120 metres instead of 30 metres and the casting of the upper beams will be in steel and fibre. This has resulted in significant cost reduction. The bridge will connect the world’s largest river island, Majuli, with Jorhat in Assam.

The work for the construction of the New Pa­mban Bridge was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Once completed, it will be the country’s first vertical lift railway sea brid­ge. The new bridge will help the railways to ope­rate trains at a higher speed, carry more weight and increase the volume of traffic bet­ween Pamban and Rameswaram.


Several attempts have been made to reduce the environmental effect of concrete, which is used in volumes second only to water. These include the use of industrial by-products called supplementary cementing materials such as fly ash and slag cement. The first geogrid reinforced fly ash approach embankment was constructed for the Okhla flyover bridge in Delhi.

Further, to alleviate the problems of scarc­ity of natural materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, alternative materials such as ma­nufactured sand and iron, steel and copper slag aggregates are being used for bridge cons­truction. Different types of concrete are being developed, which includes self-compacting co­ncrete, high performance concrete, fibre reinforced concrete and ultra high performance concrete. Fibre-reinforced bridges could practically last for the longest time as they are completely non-corroding in nature, while wooden and steel bridges typically need refurbishment. The viaduct piers of the upcoming Chenab bri­dge are made of concrete, while the piers near the arch are of steel.

The way forward

The evolution of bridge engineering has been strongly linked to the key advances in materials, construction processes and modelling. The fu­ture of bridge design requires reinventing this collaboration through the use of new platforms for developing and delivering the design materials. Going forward, sustainability and environment-friendly interventions will continue to drive the bridge construction process. Further, advan­ced modelling techniques, material choices and analysis methodologies will be adopted for building bridges across the country.