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Contractors World  - UK & Ireland
2014 Vol 4 No 1

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Record-breaking continuous underwater concrete pour - page 3 of 4

The new three-tower 2.7 km (1.6 mile) cable-stayed bridge is due to be opened to traffic by the end of 2016. The new bridge’s towers will be 207 metres above high tide, 25 per cent higher than the current Forth Road Bridge.

A total of 30,000 tonnes of steel and 150,000 cubic metres of concrete will be used to construct the new bridge, which will support a two-lane motorway with hard shoulder and include modern wind shielding to protect traffic from the effects of wind buffeting.
Concrete challenge

South Tower Continuous
Underwater Concrete Pour


• Total concrete poured in caisson – 16,869 m³
• Number of mobile pumps – 6
• Number of concrete trucks - 10
• Number of continuous hours for pouring - 364
• Lowest point of concrete – minus 40 m
• Weight of the concrete plug: 38,780 tonnes
• Number of barge journeys – 273
• Fastest loading of a barge – 37 minutes
• Fastest discharge at caisson – 42 minutes
• Average pour rate – 46.4 m³/h
• Number of man hours worked – 29,200
• Highest wind speed during pour - 20 m/s
• Quantity of concrete poured in best shift – 720 m³
• Total diesel used – 76,000 litres

FCBC Senior Materials Engineer, John McEvoy, outlines some of the challenges involved in carrying out one of the largest underwater concrete pours ever seen in Europe.

The route which the new bridge will take across the Forth is now picked out by the position of the three steel caissons and various sheet piled cofferdams which help form the foundations of the bridge’s towers and piers.

The operation to backfill the caissons with underwater concrete has been the subject of detailed planning for many months. A specially designed concrete batching plant was constructed on-site in the Rosyth docks.

The plant is fully computerised and automated, making it one of the most modern in the UK. The concrete was batched there before being shipped out on barges to the middle of the Forth in a continuous operation which, at its peak, involved up to 100 people.

Much of the raw materials which make up the concrete – the sand, aggregates and water, for example – is being sourced locally. At full tilt, the plant will be producing up to 120 cubic metres of concrete per hour, a very high production rate. That means a truck-load will be leaving the plant every four minutes and making its way to the dockside where it is pumped onto one of four specially designed barges, each carrying six static concrete mixers on its deck.

Large, computerised batching plant at Forsyth supplies continuous flow of concrete.      These mixers keep the concrete mix “live” as the barges, which were specially fitted out for FCBC by Briggs Marine in Burntisland, are pulled by tugs out to location. Each mixer carries 12 cubic metres of concrete, giving each barge a total capacity of 72 cubic metres.

Large, computerised batching plant at Forsyth supplies continuous flow of concrete.

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