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One thing that became clear during the process of preparing this special supplement is the fact that there is very little that the specialist lifting and launching sector will not attempt! Bridges are being slid, lifted, rotated, lowered, swung, skidded and shipped on a regular basis, programme times are being slashed and costs kept to budget.
As we report in our articles, a whole range of factors are driving the move towards more off-site work, and the use of specialist, large-scale equipment to install bridges. Greater pressure from clients to reduce the impact on the travelling public; the increasing difficulty of getting agreement from third-parties such as rail operators or port authorities to allow closures of rail tracks or waterways; the need for private toll road operators to generate income as quickly as possible, and the ever-more vocal lobby of motorists and local businesses are putting continued pressure on owners, contractors and consultants to find efficient, imaginative and techically-demanding solutions that keep traffic flowing as much as possible.
Additional factors such as safety and economy also play a part. And while the dramatic lifts and launches will always make front page news, it is more than likely that it will be at the smaller end of the scale that the new techniques will have the greatest impact. All the examples shown in the supplement underline the fact that bridge engineers now have more options available to them than ever before, and should be able to realise even the most ambitious lifting, launching or accelerated bridge project.