The proper design of a bridge, tunnel or highway is of the utmost importance, yet no less important is their conservation. Pasquale Giordano, Head of the Structures Department at Ayesa, gives us an overview of the world of maintenance for infrastructures.
What risks do bridges display and what factors must be controlled?
It is not the same thing to discuss concrete and steel bridges, or if these are built with cable-stays or pre-cast beams. Depending on the materials used and its typology, a specific maintenance plan would need to be devised. Yet, in general terms, one must always monitor the project’s values with regard to dead loads and usage overloads never being exceeded. Insomuch as the materials, for steel structures, care must always be taken to limit corrosion phenomena. The same risk levels are noted on bridges whose structural capacity is based on high-resistance steel cables, as well as those made from pre-tensed concrete or struts.
How are maintenance tasks performed nowadays?
Solutions used nowadays are highly diverse depending on the type of infrastructure. In any case, maintenance is generally based on visual inspections and a series of eventual testing and monitoring measures of all types, in line with the type of infrastructure in question and the potential issues arising.
When designing a bridge. What elements must be borne in mind?
The conditioning factors for the choice of bridge typology are numerous: geotechnical, environmental, aesthetic, economic etc. factors play a part. The final choice is the result of a detailed study into all of the aforesaid factors, amongst which, future maintenance also has a significant bearing.
What factors might lead to collapse?
It cannot be established beforehand which would be the most probable factor that would lead to a bridge’s collapse. Suitable maintenance procedures may help to conserve the infrastructure with the resistant characteristics of the project, but, over time, if the environmental conditions alter, a scenario that is in no way an isolated case, for example environmental aggressiveness, one would no longer need to focus on maintenance, rather on the need for structural rehabilitation and alignment.
Are Spanish bridges sufficiently supervised?
In Spain, in recent years, there has been a noteworthy development of infrastructures, and, therefore, the majority of the bridges in place are quite recent, meaning the issues inherent with a lack of maintenance are not yet serious or frequent. Currently, in accordance with our experience, only when an infrastructure displays signs of serious pathology is its rehabilitation and maintenance proposed, without there being a suitable plan in place for upkeep and conservation.
Does Ayesa have experience in services of this nature?
A maintenance and usage instructions project is commissioned of the project management team or planners directly by the developers. Along these lines, we have drafted maintenance manuals when the developer has so required.