Building bridges with local authorities
Local authorities are quickly signing up to bridge a knowledge 'gap' as the cold snap inspires them to ensure that their bridges are fully robust and meet new regulations.
Bridge Inspectors training events are being delivered by Sheffield Hallam University, one of the first in the country to teach the new code of practice for bridge inspectors.
Dr Fin O Flaherty, from the Centre for Infrastructure Management at Sheffield Hallam University, said: 'Weather conditions such as the recent snow and ice can have a detrimental effect on bridges, especially reinforced concrete ones, due to the application of de-icing salts. The dramatic effect on bridges due to flooding has also been evident recently.
'We are finding that, with the new code of practice governing bridge inspection, some authorities are being overwhelmed and that our courses can fill a knowledge gap to provide efficient management of the national bridge stock.
'There are a vast number of bridge structures in the UK's highway and railway transport networks which require regular monitoring and maintenance to ensure a safe and prolonged service life.
'Not only must the bridge inspector understand how various materials such as reinforced concrete, steel, cast iron and masonry perform under different conditions, but also an up-to-date knowledge of guidelines on how to maintain and inspect these structures is required.'
Professor Pal Mangat, head of the centre, added: 'When we talk about sustainability it is not only in the sense of creating new buildings and structures that are sustainable but preserving our older ones as well.
'Sheffield Hallam can tailor courses to the needs of our clients and we are finding that our Bridge Inspectors course is highly topical and also in demand as local authorities look to protect and enhance their infrastructure.'