A £135m Swansea regeneration scheme is set to take a major step forward this week.
The first four huge steel panels of a striking landmark bridge are due to arrive in the city where, with others that will follow, they will be expertly fitted together over the coming months.
The gold-coloured bridge is due to be installed in one piece over the main Oystermouth Road early in the New Year for finishing touches to be carried out.
It will range in width from 12m to 6m, will stand 6m off the road, will be 6m high and 49m long. It will be lit inside by colour-changing LED lights.
The bridge is due to be opened for pedestrians and cyclists in the second half of 2021.
Four giant panels due to form the bridge’s deck are set to be driven onto site next to the LC tomorrow and Wednesday on 34m-long, 6m-wide trucks. They are arriving on four loads.
They are coming from a steel fabrication firm in Yorkshire and will travel along the M4 and Fabian Way.
Around eight smaller loads – on conventional-sized trucks – will follow in the subsequent two weeks; these will carry the panels that will form the bridge’s sides and apex.
Once installed the bridge will dramatically link two sides of the Swansea Central Phase One scheme – a 3,500-capacity arena, parkland and parking on the LC side; homes, commercial units and more parking on the city centre side.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “As our £1bn reimagining of Swansea continues at pace, it will be excellent to welcome this impressive new iconic structure to Swansea.
“Within a few months it will span Oystermouth Road providing a stunning new gateway landmark to our city.
“A little later, in line with Swansea Central Phase One’s completion, it will open and will help link our city to the sea and allow people to get to the beach without having to cross the busy Oystermouth Road.
“Swansea Central Phase One will help us become one of the most exciting places in the UK to live, work and enjoy.”
The pattern on the bridge’s side panels – designed by Swansea artist Marc Rees and created in collaboration with award-winning architects ACME – is fun, outward looking and forward thinking.
Origami-style steel cutouts clearly feature swan shapes but there’s also an abstract edge to them.
They’ll let in light and offer attention-grabbing patterns in the steel itself and on the floor.
The swan shapes are already cut out and the panels come with many coats of paint already applied. Work on site will include the welding together of panels and a final covering of gold-coloured paint.
A tired-looking much small footbridge over Oystermouth Road was removed to make way for the new landmark.
Artist Marc Rees said: “The delivery of the steel panels shows that this project is very real. It’s an exciting project to work on and I look forward to seeing it take shape on site over the coming months.”
Friedrich Ludewig, director at ACME, said: “We are hugely excited that the bridge’s first steel panels are finally arriving on site.
“The bridge over Oystermouth Road will be a key link to Swansea Arena and the coastal park, strengthening the link between the city centre and the beach, and creating an iconic gateway for pedestrians on the bridge and for motorists passing below.
“The steel side panels arriving on site in future days and weeks have been laser cut with a customized swan pattern that will come to life at night as a coloured glowing lantern.”
Tim Wood, project director for Swansea Central Phase One main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, said: “Our aim now is to ensure that the finished bridge delivers the architectural, aesthetic qualities that are required and that it creates a stunning visual gateway to Swansea.”
The arrival of the span panels on their huge trucks may mean some temporary road disruption in the Oystermouth Road area.
There will be no road closures but delays may occur at the following times: Tuesday – noon-2pm and 3-5pm; Wednesday 7-10am and noon-2pm.
The council thanks motorists for their understanding. Bus operators and local residents are being informed.
Swansea Central Phase One is being developed by Swansea Council as a catalyst for wider city centre regeneration. It is being project managed by RivingtonHark. It is due to be open in the second half of next year. World-leading theatre company ATG are set to run the arena.
Preferred bidder for a hotel on the site is nationally renowned premium hotel operator Cairn Group. They are in discussions with a number of international hotel brands for the site.
Key funding assistance has come from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal – for the arena – and from the Welsh Government’s Active Travel Fund for the bridge.
Swansea Central Phase Two is due to follow, delivering office space, homes, retail and leisure. The council has also launched a global search for a partner to help develop six other key sites in and around the city centre.