Innovation in bridge design must come with an appreciation of risk, if the natural conservatism of clients is to be overcome were among the themes at New Civil Engineer’s Future of Bridges conference.Developments in bridge design, construction and maintenance are moving at an unprecedented pace, whether in terms of 3D printed structures or the use of self-sensing materials.
But alongside these innovations, there is the perspective of the collapse of an in-construction bridge in Florida in March 2018 (see page 38),and the Polcevera Viaduct tragedy in August that year. These have brought a greater sense of self-reflection to the sector as engineers try to unravel why and when the warning signs were not picked up.
Engineers are walking the line between heeding past lessons and innovating to combat challenges such as the climate emergency and maintaining ageing structures. So it is timely to look at the future of bridges, the challenges in design, construction and maintenance and how these might be met.