Preparations in full swing before the demolition of the landmark bridge between the Eufees and Swartkoppies interchange on Saturday night. Picture: Pretoria News

Pretoria - For the past 52 years, the majestic bridge stretching across the N14 highway between the Eufees and Swartkoppies interchange was a landmark to those travelling south.

But the end of an era arrived when this icon was demolished at the weekend.

There were none of the dramatics associated with implosions.

It was a gracious end to a gracious bridge, as it was dismantled piece by piece.

The MEC of Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, said he was saddened by the demolition of the bridge.

This was because of its iconic stature, he said,but noted the importance of the act.

“I feel very sad. It is a beautiful and iconic structure.

"But one has to think of public and road safety first,” Vadi said.

The bridge was constructed in 1965 and carried two water pipes that were no longer in use.

At about 6pm on Saturday, officials and engineers started clearing the road and blocking motorists for the operation that lasted a total of 15 hours.

They placed various layers of protective material beneath the bridge in order to protect the road surface.

Numerous cranes and excavators and other specialised machinery were employed for the demolition of the bridge.

In 2015, an assessment was done on the bridge that suggested that it either had to be rehabilitated or demolished.

The decision to demolish it was taken by the Department of Roads and Transport.

This came after the City confirmed that the water pipes would be decommissioned, and the bridge would no longer be in use.

“The water pipes are of no use and the City has since build replacements that will service the feeder areas,” said Vadi.

He said the cost to repair and maintain the bridge was roughly the same as demolishing it.

But repairing it and maintaining it would include regular costs, he explained.

He also added that vandalism was rife on the bridge, and people were starting to strip it of copper cakes and rails, increasing the risk of collapse.

The bridge was cut and taken down one piece at a time, using eight highly effective machines.

Contractor Kate Bester from Jet Demolition said the bridge's two redundant water pipes were 600mm in diameter.

The bridge itself was 4.5m wide and 65m long.

“She’s a beauty that has run her race, serving the community very well,” she said.

At the weekend motorists had to use alternative roads as Christina de Wit to Eeufees Road, the M10 to Eeufees Road, and the N14 from Kgosi Mampuru Street interchange to the M10 were closed for the duration of the demolition.

The road has been reopened since Sunday.

Pretoria News