Kincardine Bridge - an engineering triumph 85 years on

23 August 2022
Image of a bridge.
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The Kincardine bridge is a magnificent example of inter-war years British engineering. This iconic Category A-listed historic major structure exhibits architectural features such as an impressive, curved swing-span truss section and art-deco styling throughout. Opened in 1936, it was the longest highway bridge in Scotland and incorporated the largest swing-span section in Europe. In recent years Kincardine Bridge started to suffer deterioration to critical structural components. Amey Consulting’s long-time client, Transport Scotland, wanted confirmation of the bridge’s safety.

Amey Consulting assembled a skilled team to undertake a comprehensive structural assessment of the bridge, according to present-day standards. The ambition remained simple: maintaining Kincardine as a sustainable and reliable transport link across the expansive Forth Estuary.  

The complex quantitative analysis encompassed the entirety of the superstructure, substructure and its foundations. We overcame numerous challenges throughout, including:

  • Safe inspection of the bridge amidst stringent Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
  • Pioneering assessment methodologies for truss gusset plates beyond established UK practice.
  • Assessing complex outmoded structural components such as buckle plates and shingle joints.

The team identified that sharing this innovative work would benefit the wider industry and, with Transport Scotland, prepared a Technical Paper entitled “Kincardine Bridge – an engineering triumph 85 years on” which was accepted for publication in the prestigious ICE Bridge Engineering Journal.

Amey Consulting’s approach and recommendations enabled the historic listed structure to be safely and sustainably maintained. Unnecessary traffic restrictions were avoided and premature bridge replacement, both of which would have triggered significant adverse social, economic, and environmental impacts. Key contributors to this positive outcome were:

  • Implementing unprecedented analysis and assessment techniques
  • Practical, whole life bridge maintenance strategies.

By preventing premature replacement, more than 5,700 tonnes of C02 emissions associated with the removal of the existing bridge’s steelwork alone has been saved. The project serves as an excellent example of how Amey Consulting can facilitate the re-use of existing infrastructure for modern-day requirements and provide an industry-leading approach to sustainable development.

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