The shortlist for The Structural Awards 2015 was published in August, celebrating outstanding structural engineering projects from around the world. The winners will be announced during an Awards ceremony in London on 13 November.

“Restoration, Repairs and Upgrade of the Sir William Goodman Bridge” is an entry to our “Structural Heritage” Category, which celebrates outstanding restoration and conservation efforts by structural engineers. Here John Woodside, a Fellow of the Institution and a member since 1974, discusses why and how the Bridge was restored, and why our engineering heritage is so important.

The Sir William Goodman Bridge is located in Adelaide, Australia, and a fascinating piece of Australian engineering heritage. It was designed by General Sir John Monash, a remarkable Australian who as well as a pioneering engineer is arguably Australia’s most famous general; having commanded the Australian 4th Brigade in the Gallipoli campaign during World War One. The Bridge was built in 1908 for Adelaide’s tram system, and is the second oldest reinforced concrete girder bridge in South Australia.

Sadly over the years it had been neglected and forgotten, being hidden away and having several owners who each tried to avoid carrying out maintenance work. Engineering heritage is taken reasonably seriously in Australia, but there isn’t enough emphasis on restoration efforts - another Monash bridge design at a town called Victor Harbor, thought to be the oldest girder bridge in Australia, is heritage listed but suffering concrete corrosion.

The Sir William Goodman Bridge is also heritage listed, which meant that it couldn't be demolished without a long, complex process. As it turned out we restored the old bridge for around half of the cost of a new footbridge - which more than justifies the restoration and repairs approach – but it wasn’t easy.

The bridge after restoration

A 2010 audit had shown the bridge to be suffering from severe cracking and corrosion, and it was closed immediately. A following report stated that the bridge could not be repaired at all, so bad was the damage. Fortunately one of the owners wanted to keep the bridge standing and called us in to take a look. We were delighted to find that it could be restored to use as a pedestrian and cycling bridge.

This was the first time in my career I had really been involved in in substantial repair and restoration work to a heritage structure. To make a success of this kind of engineering you have to understand the materials with which the structure was built with and the era in which it was designed. I have worked on a number of fascinating projects during my 48 year career, including Queen Anne’s Mansion in Westminster and the Millennium Dome in London, but have to say this was one of the most fascinating projects with which I have been involved; I love history, and the chance to work on a design by Monash, who was an early pioneer in reinforced concrete, made it really interesting.

It’s wonderful to see a historic structure like this restored to glory. It is beautifully lit at night and owner, design team, and contractor are all delighted with the completed work. It’s the kind of project that makes you part of a proud, shared structural engineering history.

Visit The Structural Awards website to learn more about the awards.


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