Since joining ROD's graduate programme, I have contributed to several interesting projects, none more so than Narrow Water Bridge, a major cross-border infrastructure project linking the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down and the Cooley Peninsula in Co. Louth. Crossing the Newry River approximately 400m south of the Narrow Water Keep, the bridge connects the R173 Omeath Road south of Ferry Hill and the A2 dual carriageway at the existing roundabout. When complete, it will provide road, pedestrian, and cycle access, with a greenway integrated in the design.
My work on this project has allowed me to gain experience within three individual teams at ROD, each of which provided a different perspective on the project.
During my six-month rotation in the environmental team, I had the opportunity to learn about the environmental sensitivities, relevant planning legislation and the sustainability side of this project. I was involved in reviewing the conditions of planning, and we had to be conscious of the nature and habitats around the area, which will be reflected in the careful planning of the timing of piling for the bridge in the river channel so as not to disturb the fish and birds. I also gained experience of the statutory processes, and I was involved in liaising with the relevant statutory bodies, which further underlined the north-south connectivity and collaboration.
In the geotechnical team, my focus shifted to the geotechnical and hydrogeological impacts of the project. We analysed the grab samples from the river prior to the commencement of dredging works, bearing in mind the potential contaminating particles in the water. The project also involves the design of a greenway to the rear (behind) of the bridge south abutment. One of the tasks I worked on was checking the bearing capacity of the greenway underpass structure, which involved understanding the type of soil and its shear strength and further introduced me to the use of Eurocode 7 for geotechnical design.
Bridge design team
As I rotated into the bridges team, the bridge design team had mobilised and were updating the design of the main bridge structure. I had the opportunity to start working on the bridge deck global design. The bridge is an orthotropic steel deck with an asymmetrical design, with several different steel plates and stiffeners that make the design that bit more intricate and complex. The global design has involved the use of the Eurocodes (EN 1993-1-1, 1993-1-5, and 1993- 2), MIDAS Civil (finite element software), and hand calculations, all of which employed the skills I had learnt throughout college.
The Narrow Water Bridge project has afforded me the opportunity to get involved a major civil engineering infrastructure project and contribute from the different sectors. I have applied skills learned in college and learned new skills that will help me with my career progression. I look forward to working on this project until completion, and I am excited to see the structure come to life in the near future.