Assessing geotechnical constraints on the development of Ulster Canal Greenway Phase 2

Last week, we spent two days carrying out a walkover survey of the disused Ulster Canal alignment between Smithborough in Co. Monaghan and Middletown in Co. Armagh with Clandillon Civil Consulting. Our task was to identify and map potential geotechnical and geological constraints to the development of this very interesting 22km cross border greenway project, to feed in to a wider technical scoping study for the project under preparation by Clandillon Civil Consulting. The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The canal alignment is quite overgrown and difficult to access but the views were beautiful and the industrial heritage of this unusually narrow canal is fascinating.

The canal’s original engineers and surveyors chose an optimal route, threading the canal between the local drumlins and moraines. This way, the canal follows the edge of the low-lying alluvial deposits between the drumlins and moraines, minimising the need for locks, while keeping the foundations in the competent glacial deposits at the toe of the adjacent slopes.

Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway, due to open in 2020, will make a fine addition to Ireland’s growing collection of greenways.

Designs for StoneTerra gravity retaining walls

On Thursday last we visited two sites in County Cork where StoneTerra modular block gravity retaining walls we had carried out design for were under construction. The first site was part of the Bandon Flood Relief Scheme, where a StoneTerra wall was retaining a river bank, and the second site was a new Topaz service station near Fermoy, where the levelling pad was just being installed ahead of the placing of the blocks.



We also visited two sites where geogrid was being used as reinforcement in other StoneTerra structures, allowing for wall heights in excess of that possible using gravity retaining wall design principles.



All four projects were progressing well and we were again impressed with the speed and efficiency of installation possible with the StoneTerra system, as well as the aesthetic finish of the blocks.

Geotechnical Engineering for Ground and Surface Water conference

We were delighted to help organise the recent Geotechnical Society of Ireland/Engineers Ireland conference, “Geotechnical Engineering for Ground and Surface Water”. Twelve very interesting papers were presented in front of an audience of over 120 attendees at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise. Among the presentations, one of the key points that stood out was the critical role of the geotechnical engineer in the design of flood protection works, with geotechnical engineering works making up the vast majority of the capital spend in any flood protection scheme. The value of geotechnical expertise was stressed throughout.

Ciaran Reilly chaired a session on groundwater modelling, where two very interesting papers on the modelling of regional scale aquifers were presented.

The proceedings of the conference are now available to purchase on the Engineers Ireland website, and would make a valuable reference document for any civil engineering designer or contractor engaged in works involving ground water or flood protection.