The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a $260 million loan to help Bangladesh construct a strategically important, state-of-the-art bridge in Mymensingh, which would substantially ease congestion in the northern city.
Once complete, Kewatkhali Bridge will divert traffic from the busy city centre of Mymensingh. Being part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India border corridor project, the bridge will also help boost local and regional connectivity, the investment bank said in a release.
Set to be the first arch steel bridge in Bangladesh, Kewatkhali Bridge will make use of the latest advances in technology to improve safety and promote early detection of structural damage, according to AIIB.
More than 11 million people in Bangladesh’s northern region will benefit from increased mobility and integration of local and regional markets. The bridge will also shorten the travel time for people and vehicles and contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.
“As in other river delta environments, bridges play a strategic role in Bangladesh’s transport network," said AIIB Senior Investment Operations Specialist Natalia Sanz.
"AIIB considers the financing of Kewatkhali Bridge an opportunity to use the latest technology in bridge maintenance and management to improve its structural performance, service life and the safety of the bridge for residents and motorists,” she said.
The project includes a proposed Bridge Health Monitoring System (BHMS), which, Sanz said, would be used to provide early warnings of structural issues in the main bridge.
Data on load and environmental effects, as well as the bridge responses, would be captured in real time and interfaced with a bridge rating system, allowing for more efficient monitoring and will help in formulating systematic approach to periodic inspection, according to AIIB.
“By studying the changes observed in bridge conditions over time, engineers can develop models to distinguish the effects of maintenance activity from normal wear and tear," Sanz said.
"State-of-the-art work in this area includes deepening our understanding of physical deterioration processes, especially the effect of structural damage on the reliability and performance of structural components,” she added.
Training and institutional development of the Roads and Highways Department on the maintenance and operation of an arch steel bridge and on the use of the BHMS is a core component of the project.
The AIIB is a multilateral development bank whose mission is financing the Infrastructure for Tomorrow — infrastructure with sustainability being its core. It began operations in Beijing in January 2016 and has since grown to 103 approved members worldwide.