Construction on the Msikaba Bridge deck, located near Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, was started in December. This 580m bridge will, when completed, cross the 195m deep Msikaba River gorge making it the longest span cable-stayed suspension bridge in South Africa.
According to the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), the anticipated completion date is the end of 2024.
Msikaba Bridge, approximately 23km east of Lusikisiki, forms part of the backbone of the green fields’ portion of the N2 Wild Coast Road project (N2WCR).
The bridge deck is the part protruding over the gorge that traffic will drive on, crossing from one side to the other.
“This is quite a milestone. For a cable-stay bridge, a huge amount of work precedes the construction of the bridge deck itself, much of which is hidden from sight,” explained SANRAL’s N2WCR project manager, Craig McLachlan. “The pier includes its major foundations to support the downward pressure from the cables, as well as the abutment and gallery next to the piers. This is where the deck starts and is joined to the base of the pier. The two massive anchor blocks on each side, each half a soccer field long and buried four storeys into the ground, all must be substantially complete before work on the deck extending out over the gorge can start.”
The entire deck comprises 36 segments, 18 segments on each side. Each is made up of two box girders and two truss girders. Three trucks are required to transport each segment and, in total, it will take 108 trips, including four abnormal loads for the four boxes of segment zero at the North and South sites.
All steel used to manufacture the material for the deck is 100% South African.
The deck segments are being constructed (cut and welded) in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
On completion the Msikaba Bridge will play a crucial role in improving travel time, connecting previously divided communities in the region, and opening opportunities in business and community-based tourism for the Wild Coast.
The completed road will improve the travel time between Durban and East London by up to three hours for heavy freight and, by providing a high mobility route through an area that is extremely isolated and under-served by road infrastructure, the route will have significant social and economic benefits and will act as a catalyst for local and regional development.