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New bridges being built and installed at Norton Bridge rail interchange

News Bridge Construction Time-Lapse

2 June 2020 Kate

Bridge construction is an essential part any infrastructure network, helping to create effective, smooth flowing road and rail transportation routes.

Time-lapse capture can document all aspects of bridge construction, from bridge engineering and manufacturing to installation and demolition. Bridge construction time-lapse captures the complex work involved in building bridges of all types, size, and scale.

How is a bridge constructed?

Modern bridges are constructed in a multitude of ways, depending on the terrain and the physical obstruction – or lack of – they are required to span. Specialist highway bridges, rail bridges, and bridges spanning waterways differ in many ways, but the basics tend to be the same. They all have abutments – the endpoints of a bridge that withstand intense lateral pressures, and piles that are driven into the ground to support the bridge. Bridge construction projects have complexities, requiring meticulous design, planning, and attention to detail from specialist civil engineering companies.

Bridge structures have spanned physical obstacles for centuries and therefore as well as modern bridge construction, there are also numerous heritage bridges that need replacing and upgrading. One such example of work on a landmark heritage bridge is the replacement of the Goathland Bridge, undertaken by Cleveland Bridges on behalf of North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Over a four-month period, our time-lapse camera system was installed to capture the whole project, from dismantling the old bridge, earthworks, and the installation of the new 84-tonne single-span structure. To add to the complexity of the build, the bridge had to arrive by rail and the bridge engineers had to work from a small assembly area adjacent to the rail line.

What are the most common materials used in modern bridge building?

For the Goathland Bridge replacement project, the main materials used were iron, steel, and concrete to replicate the original historic bridge. Bridges can be constructed from numerous materials, however, with the most used materials for large modern bridge construction are steel and concrete, as well as stone and asphalt. Other materials used include iron, timber, and aluminium. Concrete and steel are popular materials in modern bridge-building as they are robust, versatile, effective, and economical. They provide efficient and sustainable solutions for a wide range of bridges.

We captured the effective use of concrete and steel in bridge construction, in collaboration with Aerial Images, during the M56 Thorley Lane Bridge replacement highway works for Highways England. Weighing 1500 tonnes and spanning the length of a football pitch, Thorley Lane Bridge Replacement is an impressive bridge installation warranting documentation.


Such time-lapse photography can capture the overall progress of bridge construction and can also highlight specific details that are part of the complex fabrication, engineering, and build process.

Bridge construction time-lapse videos showcase the enormous civil engineering feats behind bridge building such as the Thorley Lane Bridge Replacement, which shows the expertise involved and the impressive engineering collaboration between Balfour Beatty and Mott MacDonald. Time-lapse is also an ideal tool to highlight the manpower and organised workflow needed for such successful bridge construction projects. 

What are the main types of bridges?

One of the most common types of the modern bridge is the beam bridge, as used in the Thorley Lane Bridge Replacement highway bridge. However, there is a wide range of modern bridge types, as they need to span many different sized obstacles – from a body of water to valleys to roads. The beam bridge is one of the simplest types of bridge, whilst there are truss bridges, cantilever bridges, arch bridges, and tied arch bridges. More intricate bridge structures are suspension bridges and cable-stayed bridges.

Each individual bridge project has its own engineering complexities. Time-lapse capture can be used to monitor real-time progress and once the build is completed, footage can be skilfully edited to distill the project into a few minutes of captivating time-lapse video. Such time-lapse videos are useful to document projects and to also showcase bridge construction to companies and clients for promotional purposes.

Why use time-lapse videos?

Time-lapse videos play an important role in promoting civil engineering skills and the teamwork required to construct bridges. Visually documenting the whole build process with high-quality video showcases the complexity and skill involved in bridge construction. It is worthwhile bringing bridge construction into the spotlight, as it will continue to be an important and necessary part of infrastructure projects.   

As the UK’s leading time-lapse video company, we have the expertise and know-how to produce bridge construction time-lapse videos to high specification requirements. Please contact us for more details and to discuss your next project.

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