The iconic 6.15km-long Padma Multipurpose Bridge was officially opened at the weekend by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister for Bangladesh. COWI in the UK was appointed in 2007 by the Asian Development Bank to assist with the development of the project and subsequently by the Bangladesh Bridge Authority to undertake the Category III Independent Design Check of the bridge and associated river training works. More recently, COWI has provided technical support during construction, including a major redesign
of the highway deck to accelerate construction.

This mega project, one of the longest bridges in the world, has been a long-held aspiration for Bangladesh. Crossing the mighty Padma River, which divides Bangladesh, it will form a new strategic link, connecting the south-west of the country, to northern and eastern regions. Costing US$ 3,600 M, it will cut journey times, transform road and rail travel across the country and boost the country’s GDP by more than 1%.

The bridge consists of 150m-long composite truss spans, supported on piles driven up to 130m into the underlying strata, with a post-tensioned segmental concrete upper deck carrying highway traffic, with heavy rail on the lower deck.

Paul Sanders, Project Director, COWI, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been part of this monumental project, which forms part of our portfolio of high- profile major infrastructure schemes that COWI has secured in Bangladesh over the past 10 years. A portfolio that includes the construction supervision of the Karnaphuli Tunnel in Chittagong, and the feasibility studies for five other major river crossings in Bangladesh.

“With Padma Bridge, the river foundations have been particularly challenging, with soft and scour channels up to 60m deep. Steel piles 3m in diameter were driven to depth and base grouting was used to enhance the end bearing capacity. COWI’s expertise has been fundamental to proving the pile capacities.”

Other parties involved in the bridge include Aecom, as original designers, and Rendel, as part of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority’s support team.

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