WATCH: The V&A's new 55 ton swing bridge, with 50 second full rotation - officially open

2019-05-28 05:30 - Selene Brophy
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The V&A Waterfront is part of a fully-fledged working harbour, yet it effortlessly offers visitors from near and far a world-class experience when it comes to entertainment, shopping, dining and accommodation. 

Congestion for such a popular attraction is obviously something that needs careful consideration - especially since the V&A Waterfront has been expanding rapidly over the last five years - the most recent being the opening of the Silo District and the fun Battery Park. 

Earlier in May, the final installation stages of its new swing bridge, designed by SMEC South Africa, took place - with the bridge now officially opened, on Thursday 11 July. 

While the bridge itself has been six-years in designing, the construction process came to fruition - with the overall cost estimated to be about R20-million. The 55-ton bridge is an engineering feat when you consider something that is so heavy, will be able to do a full rotation in just on 50-seconds. 

Work on the new bridge began in late 2018, and required two construction phases. Phase one was finished in February. The bridge was out of commission during the second installation period, which commenced on 20 May.  Watch the video above for expert commentary and to see the bridge being hoisted into place. 

READ: Day-tripping Cape Town: The Waterfront's trendy Silo District 

New swing bridge is being installed at the V& A Wa
New swing bridge is being installed at the V& A Wa
New swing bridge is being installed at the V& A Wa
New swing bridge is being installed at the V& A Wa

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Since January this year, close to one million people (865 595 at end April 2019) visitors crossed the old bridge. On average, 180 000 to 240 000 people cross the bridge every month all depending on the season, and events taking place on the property, says the V&A Waterfront. 

Double the size of the previous 2m bridge, this 4m bridge ramps up capacity of the walkway that allows pedestrians to cross the stretch of water connecting the Pierhead Precinct and the Clock Tower Precinct - and further on to the new Silo District.

When required, the bridge is swung away to allow ships free passage on their journey to the sea.

The length of the new bridge remains unchanged at 42 meters, but a raised beam running down the centre of the bridge will encourage people to always enter the bridge to their left.

The original swing bridge was designed and constructed in 1997, but an increase in visitor numbers over the years has led to the need for a bridge which is able to accommodate more foot traffic. The new bridge remains 42 metres in length but has doubled in width to 4 meters with a raised beam down the centre to encourage a separation in the direction of foot traffic. When required, the bridge can be swung away to allow ships free passage on their journey to the sea.

 Notable features of the new bridge are:

  • It can operate in wind speeds of up to 60 km/ph
  • It can withstand the impact of a passing vessel and swing to free itself to protect the mechanism

"I am pleased to see that the V&A Waterfront management continue to invest in the space to support its growing appeal and contribute positively to the City’s economic growth and performance.  The V&A Waterfront is one of the first places that tourists visit and it is also popular among Capetonians, offering a world-class space and scenery," says Executive Mayor Dan Plato, during the official bridge opening.

"The growth of the V&A Waterfront development and its popularity with visitors continues to inspire the changes to its landscape as well as the visitor experience. The new swing bridge reinvigorates the Clock Tower precinct with a new and iconic gateway structure which purposefully unifies our public spaces for everyone to enjoy, be it on foot or a passing boat," says the V&A Waterfront CEO, David Green.  

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