Umhlatuzana River Bridge rehab on track to open in September
Durban – The rehabilitation and re-opening of the Umhlatuzana River Bridge linking Seaward Road in Clairwood with Sarnia could be completed by September 2020.
The eThekwini Roads Department stated the bridge was severely damaged in the April 2019 storms when flood water washed around the eastern abutment (the support at the end of the bridge) and dislodged the wing walls behind it, causing a saturated earth pressure behind the structure which in turn caused the failure of the abutment and the two end spans of the bridge.
This resulted in the forced closure of Seaward Road to the Industrial Park nearby which has had to use an alternative route via Sarnia Road for access.
EThekwini municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the rehabilitation of the bridge involved the immediate propping of the remaining structure to ensure continued torsional stability for the duration of the project.
“Thereafter a very careful demolition process of the damaged abutment, wing walls and the two end spans of the bridge. This phase, along with the installation of the specialised piling system to the foundations of the new abutment was a very meticulously carried out process and with seemingly slow progress, however, it was literally laying the foundation for the new bridgeworks to follow,”he explained.
The bridge reconstruction process involved connecting on to a convenient section of the existing old deck rather than demolishing the entire deck and rebuilding it (in doing this almost two-thirds of the existing bridge was saved). The existing deck design was completely remodelled as a first-phase check of the efficacy of the old structure. This was found to be perfectly fit-for-purpose and the basis from which the re-deigned section was continued.
Reconstruction of the bridge deck began in February with the preparation work placed on hold during the lockdown period. Since returning to work the new section of deck has been rebuilt and remaining ancillary work such as barriers and sidewalks are underway.
Remaining work still outstanding is the final road fill behind the abutment, road layer-works, asphalt surfacing to the road and deck and the installation of the expansion joint between the bridge deck and the abutment adjoining the road. Within the river, work is underway to protect the embankment on the south-east side with rock-filled mesh baskets and grassing.
The contract and the re-opening of the road is due for completion in early September 2020.”