Ice West Midlands; 14 Schemes Set to Battle It out for Top Civil Engineering Awards

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK CULLEN

Fourteen imaginative civil engineering projects from the region are set to battle it out for the top prize at this year's Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands Awards.

The annual awards, which showcase civil engineering excellence, have attracted a wide range of entrants from across the region.

The awards also celebrate the future of the profession by recognising the talents of graduates, students and technicians, many of whom are the products of the region's educational establishments.

The institution has also instigated an annual scholarship scheme for technicians to be piloted in the West Midlands.

It has been designed to complement the undergraduate scholarship scheme and one of these awards to a successful applicant will be made in memory of Richard Heard, chartered civil engineer and former managing director of Birmingham International Airport.

Organisers say the diverse nature of civil engineering is reflected in the projects that have achieved entry into the final.

The projects include an innovative traffic management scheme to ease congestion on the M42, strengthening of a Victorian bridge, regeneration of derelict land and the repair and reopening of track along the Severn Valley Railway following flood damage.

Supported by the Birmingham Post and Arup, the finals take place on Thursday at Birmingham's Think- Tank in Millennium Point.

Among the guests of honour expected to attend is ICE president Jean Venables OBE, the first woman to hold this position in the institution's 190-year histor y.

In 2002, she became the first woman to be elected to the Smeatonian Society and is a member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

Despite the difficult economic climate, ICE West Midlands regional director Steve Feeley is delighted at the level of interest in this year's event.

Mr Feeley said: "Of course the power behind these superb projects is our people. Our professional civil engineers are among the best in the world and these awards are about celebrating their achievements." The finalists, which have been judged by a distinguished panel of experts, have been selected for their creativity, technical excellence and benefits to the community and environment.

One project will be crowned by the judges as the overall winner.

There will also be awards in partnership, sustainability, heritage, construction and innovation.

In addition, a new geotechnical category is included for the first time and a special award will also be made to the project that delivers significant benefit to the local community.

The winner of the top prize last year was the Snow Hill Redevelopment scheme, which helped to improve traffic flow in one of Birmingham city centre's busiest road junctions.

The scheme included conferencing facilities, restaurants, bars and a fivestar hotel.

It was reported in July that giant lender Barclays Commercial Bank had acquired more than 98,000 sq ft of new office space on the development from Ballymore Properties..

The contenders for this year's Institution of Civil Engineers West Midlands Awards are:

Active Traffic Management (M42 Junctions 3A to J7, West Midlands) n Lead organisation: Highways Agency n Partner organisations: Mouchel; Birse Civils Ltd Active Traffic Management (ATM), with its innovative use of technology, uses the hard shoulder as a running lane to relieve congestion on one of England's most important motorways.

Results show that it is has improved road safety. The technique has been so successful in easing congestion that it is now the basis of a pounds 6billion investment programme and plans for an additional 340 miles of hard shoulder running are in place.

Birmingham International Airport/ National Exhibition Centre Enhanced Public Transport Major Scheme n Lead organisation: Arup n Partner organisation: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) Arup helped Solihull MBC to secure pounds 11million from the Government and pounds 1. …