WATCH: Engineers move 400-tonne bridge 14m sideways in Western Cape

Bobby Jordan Senior reporter
An artist's impression of the new Ashton Arch, which will carry the R60 across the Cogmanskloof River.
An artist's impression of the new Ashton Arch, which will carry the R60 across the Cogmanskloof River.
Image: Aecom

The Western Cape town of Ashton was riveted by SA’s strangest-ever bridge event on Saturday.

A long-awaited 110m-long and 22m-high bridge was being hydraulically shifted 14m sideways into its final resting place spanning the Cogmanskloof River. 

It is the first “transverse” bridge construction in Africa and a milestone for the local industry. The 400-tonne Ashton Arch is also SA’s first concrete tied arch bridge.

“It represents a proud monument for the Western Cape department of transport and public works, the people of the Ashton-Montagu area, and all the contractors, labourers and suppliers who were involved in the project,” the construction team said in a statement on the project website.

The Ashton Arch replaces a 90-year-old bridge across the Cogmanskloof which was prone to flooding and had reached its sell-by date.

The Arch consists of a cable-supported deck suspended by stay cables which accommodates four traffic lanes and two walkways. It is high enough to allow floodwaters to pass safely beneath without debris building up.

The new bridge was constructed alongside the old one to minimise traffic disruption. It nevertheless brings to an end years of congestion in the town due to the presence of the construction team. 

The project was led by multinational infrastructure group Aecom in collaboration with local contractors. Saturday’s bridge move was due to be completed in 24 hours.

A person close to the project, who spoke to Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, described the Arch as “a fantastic project”.

“We did a test last weekend just to see that everything was working.”

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