Bangladesh has secured a $260m loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for the construction of Kewatkhali Bridge, which will be the country’s first arch steel bridge.

The bridge will incorporate the latest technological advances to boost safety and allow structural damage to be detected early.

It will significantly reduce congestion in the northern city of Mymensingh by diverting traffic from the busy city centre.

The bridge will be a part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India border corridor, which is considered to be strategically important to boost local and regional connectivity.

Once the bridge has been built, more than 11 million people in the country’s northern region will stand to benefit from increased mobility and integration of local and regional markets.

It will also reduce travel times, which will help reduce carbon emissions.

AIIB senior investment operations specialist Natalia Sanz said: “As in other river delta environments, bridges play a strategic role in Bangladesh’s transport network.

“AIIB considers the financing of Kewatkhali Bridge at Mymensingh 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.”

The project features a proposed Bridge Health Monitoring System (BHMS), which will be used to give early warnings on structural issues in the main bridge.

Data regarding load and environmental impacts, as well as the bridge responses, will be captured in real time and interfaced with the help of a bridge rating system.

This will enable efficient monitoring of the bridge’s safety, as well as enabling a systematic approach to periodic inspection.

Sanz said: “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.

“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.”