The $383m Heilongjiang River road bridge connects Heihe, China, to Blagoveshchensk, Russia, making it the first highway connection in the trade route between North East China and Far East Russia. The 19.9-kilometre route incorporates a 1,284-metre cable-stayed bridge spanning the sensitive Black River Basin. The location has extreme seasonal temperature variations and strict environmental protection.

An ambitious, three-year construction schedule was planned to lessen the impact of these challenging conditions. As the contractor responsible for all civil construction, Long Jian Road & Bridge Company, part of the Heilongjiang Province Construction Group, implemented Bentley’s collaboration and coordination platform ProjectWise for construction management and information sharing. This improved the contractor’s project management efficiency by 25 per cent.

Construction began in November 2016, with the bridge scheduled to open in October 2019. The agreement called for China to build approximately 6.5km of the structure, starting in Changfatun Village, a suburb of Heihe City. Russia will build 13.4km, starting in Canikulgan Village. The Russian team is also tasked with connecting the two bridge sections.

Design information

The site posed numerous obstacles to construction progress, including seasonal weather extremes, ice flows, limited channel width and a protected river basin. To overcome the hurdles and meet the project delivery deadline, the team had to rapidly build a bridge model within tight time constraints; create a digital environment to manage and exchange all civil design information; and define a BIM strategy that enabled the 3D monitoring of incremental bridge launching. The clear solution was adopting BIM methodologies to effectively manage the bridge construction.

The project team researched and developed standardised 3D design modelling methods that enabled members to collaborate effectively, including the use of software programme OpenBridge Modeler’s 3D parametric modelling capabilities to achieve the required degree of accuracy for the bridge’s superstructure. Parametric modelling sees a series of algorithms or ‘parameters’ used to generate the digital model and these rules create relationships between different design elements based on project and site-specific information.

The bridge design and reality model of the shoreline facilities in the Chinese version of MicroStation software.

Integration between OpenBridge Modeler and the OpenRoads software used for road design enabled precise positioning of the substructure and customisation of more than 60 structures. As a result, the team improved efficiency by 50 per cent, compared to traditional methods.

ProjectWise enhanced collaboration and coordination among the different disciplines involved in construction of the bridge, roads, culverts, civil works and related infrastructure. Together with MicroStation, ProjectWise became the platform for 5D construction information management, creating a common data environment that allowed all participants to share, review and update information in real time. This collaboration improved modelling efficiency by 35 per cent and accelerated decision-making among management teams.

To date, Long Jian Road & Bridge Company has achieved a number of critical objectives, including reducing material waste by 1 per cent, using machinery and labour 15 times more efficiently, and limiting the cost of schedule deviations to under $80,000.

Upon completion, the project team will turn over the reality model-based asset management database to the owner for use in the operation and maintenance management phase.

This article was originally published in MEED Mashreq Construction Report Vol 3: Delivering Innovation in Construction, in April 2018.

This article is extracted from a report produced by MEED and Mashreq titled Delivering Innovation in Construction. Click here to download the report