Peter Brown Bridge is ‘100% safe’

2019-02-28 15:00
Sanral officials Ravi Ronny (left) and Mohamed Parak during the on-site visit at Peter Brown bridge yesterday morning.PHOTO: Nompilo Kunene

Sanral officials Ravi Ronny (left) and Mohamed Parak during the on-site visit at Peter Brown bridge yesterday morning.PHOTO: Nompilo Kunene

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The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) has yet again reassured residents that the unstable-looking Peter Brown bridge is ‘100% safe’ for motorists to use.

This was said during an on-site visit yesterday morning where Sanral officials invited the media on a walk-about inspection of the bridge.

One of the bridge’s supporting columns was severely damaged in October 2016 when a truck crashed into it, forcing engineers to construct a temporary prop to hold the bridge up until permanent repairs began.

In early 2017 heavy trucks driving in the slow lane of Townhill in the tar-melting summer heat pushed up a large ridge of tar in the highway. The ridge has lengthened over the years and now runs past the Peter Brown bridge for almost five kilometres.

Sanral Eastern Region’s project manager for design and construction, Mohamed Parak, said the column supporting the bridge was completely damaged but fortunately the deck of the bridge is configured in such a way that it has longitudinal beams supporting it.

“So, when the column was struck there was enough reserved strength from the remaining columns and the cross beams to redistribute the load. That was what saved the bridge from collapsing.

“As a precaution we have propped the bridge to replace the damaged column and we also diverted traffic away from the damaged end by moving the yellow line towards the middle of the road running on top of the bridge. So currently the damaged deck on the bridge is unloaded in terms of traffic loading,” said Parak.

He said the initial column had the capacity to carry 80 tons and the prop that was put up has a capacity of 300 tons, “which makes us quite certain that the bridge is 100% safe”.

However, standing on the bridge during the on-site tour, a slight tremor could be felt whenever a vehicle crossed over the bridge.

Parak said the bridge is restricted to 20 tons, even before the initial damage, despite the capacity of the bridge being well over 20 tons.

Addressing concerns raised by the public about heavy trucks spotted driving over the bridge, Parak said this was a policing issue and it was the responsibility of the police or local municipality to ensure that motorists adhere to all road restrictions.

Sanral Eastern Region’s divisional manager for design and construction, Ravi Ronny, said the R3 to R5 million project to repair the bridge would include levelling the Townhill freeway that runs under the bridge. He said they will remove all the concrete and replace it with asphalt but will prioritise fixing the bridge first.

Explaining why the repair work on the bridge has been delayed for over two and a half years, Ronny said the delays were caused by new procurement regulations.

“We are 99% done with tender documents and are hoping that in the next month we sign them and these urgent projects can go out to tender ...”

He added that the bridge is inspected on a daily basis by patrol inspectors.

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