Thursday, March 11, 2021 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM MST
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Nathan Alburn 
ASCE N. Colorado Branch 

ASCE Northern Colorado Branch Virtual Mtg, March 2021 

Scour Concerns for Historical Masonry Arch Bridges in Ireland and the U.K.

Please join us for the March 2021 ASCE Northern Colorado Branch Virtual Meeting!

Don't miss out.  Deadline to sign up:  Friday, March 5, 2021.

Register Now!

Summary of Presentation

Single- or multi-arch, short-span, masonry bridges constitute a significant proportion of the bridge inventory of Ireland and the UK (Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales).  These historic structures were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and typically are founded on relatively shallow footings of unknown depth and configuration, or on timber piles weakened by age and environmental exposure.  In recent years, increased urbanization of watersheds has enlarged discharges in streams and rivers and led to a growing number of scour-related failures of old masonry arch bridges.  Also, concerns exist that the growing frequency of severe rainfall events further threaten such bridges, and that the load-carrying capacity of such bridges is difficult to assess.  To complicate matters even more, old masonry-arch bridges usually have protected status in Ireland and the UK owing to the historical and architectural contribution these structures make to the urban and rural landscapes.  These bridges cannot simply be demolished and replaced with new bridges but must be preserved or rebuilt for aesthetic and financial reasons associated with tourism.

This talk focuses on the scour-vulnerability, reconstruction, and management of old masonry arch bridges in Ireland and the U.K.  It draws upon the experience and expertise of bridge designers, scour researchers, contractors, and various statutory bodies involved in preserving or restoring such bridges.  The repair and restoration of Ballynameen Bridge on the River Faughn, County Derry, Northern Ireland, is presented as a case-study example.



Rob Ettema

   Rob Ettema is active in several aspects of engineering hydraulics including hydraulic structures, alluvial-channel behavior, cold-regions hydraulics, and the history of engineering hydraulics.  He currently is involved with several projects associated with scour at bridge waterways and scour at structures used for channel management.  In recent years, he has collaborated with Dr. Brian Solan of Northern Ireland regarding scour problems at old stone bridges in Ireland and the UK.

He presently is a professor at Colorado State University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.  During the period 2007-2013, he served as the Dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.  Prior to joining UW, he served as head of the University of Iowa’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and has been extensively engaged as a member of the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research (1980-2007).  He attained the PhD degree at Auckland University, New Zealand in 1980.  Since 2012, he is a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand (ENZ) and since 2017 is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Rob has served as Editor of ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering (1998-2002), and currently is an associate Editor for ASCE’s Journal of Cold Regions Engineering (1992-).  He is a licensed professional engineer who consults extensively on problems regarding hydraulic structures and cold-regions engineering.

Brian Solan

   Brian is the lecturer in Foundation Engineering at the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment (Ulster University). He was born in County Louth (1969) and commenced his studies in Civil Engineering at the Regional Technical College Dundalk (now Institute of Technology) in 1986. Thereafter he attended Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB) where he graduated in June 1991 with a BEng Honours in Civil Engineering (1st Class). Subsequently completed a PhD in structural engineering in 1996, on the impact of structural continuity on the shear performance of reinforced concrete.

In August of the previous year (1995), he commenced working in the Northern Ireland Civil Service in Ballymena Division of the Department of Regional Development Roads Service (now Transport NI) as a Highways Engineer for 16.5 years.   While with the civil service, he specialised in the areas of foundation engineering, geotechnical assessment, pavement design, and bridge substructure design and repairs.

He is currently a member of the Institution of Engineers Ireland and a graduate member of the Institution of Structural Engineers.

His research interests include, working platform design for tracked plant, traffic loading of infrastructure assets, the new Eurocode 7 part 1 (2004) and the impact of extreme weather flooding on the stability of historic arch structures.  

He was the joint holder of a Royal Society Travel Scholarship to the University of Colorado for collaborative work with Professor Robert Ettema.  This work resulted in a number of publications relating to the impact of extreme weather events on the structural integrity/stability of the current masonry arch bridge inventory in the UK and Ireland. As part of this work Ulster University hosted a workshop in 2019 entitled “The Vulnerability and Management of Masonry Arch Bridges subject to Major Storm Events:”, at which stakeholders such as Transport NI, Transportation Infrastructure Ireland, Cumbria Council and QUB participated.


     Holycross Bridge

Holycross Bridge over the River Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland

A failed pier on the Ballynameen Bridge, River Faughan, County Derry, Northern Ireland

Derrybawm Bridge over the Glandassan River, County Wicklow, Ireland


Don't miss out.  Deadline to sign up:  Friday, March 5, 2021.

Register Now!