Engineers develop world’s longest ‘flat pack’ arch bridge

26 January 2015

Civil Engineers at Queen’s University Belfast have developed the world’s longest ‘flat pack’ arch bridge.

Based on the ‘FlexiArch’ system, the bridge will be transported to site in flat-pack form but when lifted, will transform under gravity into an arch.

The bridge, to be installed near Portsmouth, will span 16 m over the Wallington River in Waterlooville, Hampshire. Made of 17, 1-m-wide precast concrete units, each weighing 16 tons, the bridge will take less than a day to install using a 200-300-ton crane in association with a lifting beam.

If the alternative of a conventional arch had been utilised it would have taken months to construct and been more expensive. A FlexiArch bridge requires little maintenance and should last 300 years, compared to the projected lifespan of up to 120 years that accompanies a conventional bridge. It is the result of 10 years of research from the early 1990s in the School of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast.

There are over 50 FlexiArch bridges now in the UK and Ireland.

Professor Adrian Long, from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s University, who patented the FlexiArch concept in 2004, said: “This is a real milestone which has been reached as a result of the hard work, effective collaboration and the combined expertise of the Queen’s and Macrete team.

“The award-winning FlexiArch system is attracting international interest and this project is a reflection of the world-leading research being undertaken at Queen’s and the effectiveness of our collaborations with industry and business.”

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