Battle for Civil Engineering Prize; ICE AWARDS EC HARRIS

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Twelve diverse and exciting civil engineering projects will battle head-to-head for the honour of the top prize at this year's Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands Awards.

The awards, which showcase civil engineering excellence within the West Midlands, have seen a wide range of finalists this year - from a specially designed river crossing for fish, to a very modern extension to a Victorian art gallery.

Supported by The Birmingham Post and sponsored by EC Harris, the finals will take place tomorrow at Birmingham's Thinktank in Millennium Point. Guests will include ICE national president Quentin Leiper.

The projects, which have been judged by an eminent panel of experts, have been chosen for their innovation, creativity and benefits to the community and environment.

One project will be announced as the overall winner for 2007, with awards in other categories, including prizes to the best students in each of the civil engineering courses at the region's universities.

Last year saw strengthening work on Coalport Bridge (right) in Shropshire named best project.

Here are the contenders for 2007.

Victoria Footbridge Major Maintenance and Repairs

Client: Herefordshire Council Contractor: Interserve Project Services

Designer/Site Supervisor: Owen Williams, part of Amey

The Grade II listed Victoria Footbridge was built in 1898 in Hereford to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

When opened it was described as "artistic in design, elegant in form, light in construction and beautiful in effect". It crosses the River Wye and is a key pedestrian and cycle route to the city. The adjoining flood plain is a conservation area with parkland and archaeological features.

The footbridge comprises a 56-metre long, three-span suspension bridge. Work was undertaken between May and September 2006 and included removal of rust and original paintwork, steelwork repairs, strengthening, re-painting, footway replacement with timber to match the original and restoration of decorative features.

The work will ensure the bridge's structural adequacy, ease of future maintenance, and sympathetic restoration with minimal environmental impact.

Coalbrookdale Water Course Project

Clients: Telford & Wrekin Council, English Partnerships, Advantage West Midlands, European Regional Development Fund, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Environment Agency, Severn Gorge Countryside Trust and Aga Rayburn

Consultant: Telford & Wrekin Council Engineering Services and Atkins

Contractors: Carillion and McPhillips (Wellington) The many furnaces and forges that used to smelt and process iron at Coalbrookdale had their water supplied by two small streams and man-made pools.

But, as the industry fell into decline, the pools were filled in or left to silt up.

This project aimed to save and protect this important part of industrial history. It involved dredging more than 9,000 cubic metres of silt, stabilising 18th century sluice gates, weirs and culverts, and enhancing wildlife through new wetland planting.

Footpaths, bridges and picnic areas were also constructed to entice visitors to explore and experience this birthplace of industry.

Lord Leycester Hospital

Client: Warwickshire County Council Design Services

Consultant: English Heritage Contractor: Currall Lewis & Martin Anchor Sub-contractor: Systems Geotechnique

Torrential rain looked to threaten the future of the Grade1*, 14th century Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick when it damaged the building's retaining wall.

A combination of blocked drainage on site, increasing ground water pressure and poor masonry resulted in the wall becoming displaced and cracked.

Warwickshire County Council Design Services needed a solution balancing sound engineering with financial feasibility. …