In with the new

Engineers were at the V&A Waterfront at the crack of dawn on Saturday May 25 to install the new swing bridge, which will take people from the Silo District to the Victoria Wharf Mall.

The new two-way bridge replaces the old one, which was built in 1997 and has reached the end of its lifespan.

The old bridge was dismantled and removed to make space for the new four-metre wide bridge.

Waterfront spokesman Donald Kau said over recent years, with the development of the Silo District, foot traffic over the swing bridge had increased.

“There are about 180 000 people crossing the swing bridge over peak season, and the old bridge only had space for a single-file crossing, which meant people had to wait to cross.”

While the length of the new bridge is the same as the old one, at 42 metres, it is twice as wide, making way for two-way foot traffic.

“A beam in the middle of the bridge will encourage people to always enter the bridge to the left.”

Project engineer Mike Brokenshire said talks about a new bridge started four years ago.

“What we needed was to double the capacity, and the old bridge was 25 years old and reaching the end of its life.”

Construction started late last year in a workspace in Blackheath, before it was brought to the Waterfront in three pieces, and assembled on jetty 2, where it was lifted onto a barge and sailed over to the space where it was installed.

The bridge was designed by Mia Wilson, who also came to see the bridge being installed. Ms Wilson said the design of the bridge was a six-year project, that required lots of work-shopping and brainstorming.

“We had to consider lots of options and in the end, we figured out what would be more cost-effective.”

The swing bridge is made mostly of steel, with a timber deck.

Asked how many people the bridge could hold, Mr Brokenshire said they were still testing the exact number, but it was designed to cope with the New Year’s Eve crowd, when people stand on the bridge to watch the fireworks display.

The mechanics of the new bridge were also improved. Mr Brokenshire said the old bridge worked with what was called a pin bearing – a fixed bearing that allowed for vertical rotation through the use of a steel “pin”.

The new bridge works with a large gear, turned by hydraulics, making it stronger and more robust, and also ensures less downtime for maintenance.

On Saturday morning, the bridge was lifted off the barge by crane and installed in front of crowds of people.

It is anticipated that the new bridge will be open to the public by Tuesday June 18, after final testing and construction of entry and exit points on either side.

Meanwhile, the public can move between the Silo District and the V&A Mall via a ferry service which runs between the pierhead deck and the Clocktower from 7.30am to 6.30pm, while a MyCiti service will operate between Bascule bridge, close to the Cape Grace Hotel and Silo Square from 6.30pm to 11.30pm. There will also be Mellowcabs – an electric bicycle – or a bicycle, which can be found at Nobel Square and Silo Square. All services are free until the swing bridge is in motion.