Historic data concerning the construction of the bridge called Cordoba on the main Madrid to Cadiz road by Luis Sainz Gutiérrez, inspector general of the Civil Engineers Corps, Anales de la Revista de Obras Públicas, tome III, 1984
José Eugenio Ribera (1864-1936) was an innovative designer and the first road engineer to establish a company in order to build public works with a high technological dimension, the Company of Hydraulic and Civil Constructions.
In the words of José Antonio Fernández Ordóñez “the considerable reduction in cost and construction time achieved by Ribera with his powerful team of engineers (Eduardo Torroja and José Entrecanales worked with him in the twenties), building all over Spain using armoured concrete as an avant-garde material, led to the establishment of new similar building enterprises and increased the technological level of the other successful firms in just a few years” (catalogue of the exhibition entitled J. Eugenio Ribera, ingeniero de Caminos 1864-1936; Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos, 1982, p. 9 ).
Ribera had converted to armoured concrete in the first few years of his professional activity. In 1894, he travelled to Switzerland to study the metal viaducts designed by Javroz and Schwarzwasser, and in Geneva he had the opportunity to visit the site of the Coulouvreniere bridge, an armoured concrete embedded arch, following the Hennebique system, and the concrete floors of the new post office building in Lausanne. Ribera returned from the trip enthusiastic about the possibilities of armoured concrete and soon became the representative of the Hennebique system in Spain.
The publication of his first treatise in 1902, entitled Armoured concrete and cement, signalled the start of an evolution in which José Eugenio Ribera distanced himself from Hennebique’s not very scientific and too commercial approach, to become more in line with his colleague Juan Manuel de Zafra (1869-1923). The two of them made armoured concrete structures populat in Spain, and they shared the responsibility of establishing the theoretical background for the new material in Spain.
In 1918, Ribera taught on the subject of Prefabricated armoured concrete bridges at the School of Road Engineering of Madrid, and continued to do so until he retired in 1931. He was professionally involved in nearly a thousand projects, in which, at the end of his life, he acknowledged, “three project errors and five recognised successes”. His academic approach can be summarised in the words of his last lesson, “a professor must be critical of himself and of others” (José Eugenio Ribera, En mi última lección, establezco mi balance profesional, catalogue of the exhibition entitled J. Eugenio Ribera, ingeniero de caminos 1864-1936; Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos, 1982, p. 147-161).
For his students at the school of engineering he wrote the four tomes reproduced here, under the common title of Prefabricated armoured concrete bridges (1925-1932). Tome I, published in 1925, is about general aspects, walls and small works. Tome II, published in 1826, is about foundations. Tome III, published in 1929, is about preliminary projects and prefabricated bridges. Tome IV, published in 1932, refers to concrete bridged and special projects.