The landmark Copr Bay bridge over Oystermouth Road is set to be eased into place in a painstaking event overnight this weekend.
Oystermouth Road will be closed, and diversions put in place on the night of March 6 in an operation that will lift the 150 metric tonne bridge into place over the main road. A new landmark within the city, the bridge will be pivotal in improving access between the city and the Marina to Swansea’s coastline.
It will be a number of months before the pedestrian and cyclist bridge linking the £135m arena and coastal park to the city centre will be ready for use by the public.
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “This is going to be quite a moment in the history of our city centre and our communities.
“With its bold design that will complement the striking façade of the arena, the bridge will become a landmark for the city and an emblem nationally and internationally of a city that is going places.
“The work we’re doing couldn’t be more timely for Swansea and Wales as we emerge from the pandemic.
“We are changing the landscape, we are creating jobs, new opportunities and a new future for our city centre. The bridge, when completed, will be part of that bright future.”
Welsh artist Marc Rees, who designed the pattern on the bridge’s side panels in collaboration with award-winning architects ACME, said: “I am so looking forward to seeing the bridge in situ in all its shimmering golden glory.
“It’s been such a difficult time of late especially for the cultural sector so it’s very timely as we need a positive and aspirational symbol and I hope the bridge will do just that.”
Friedrich Ludewig, Design Director for ACME said: “The new bridge is a true piece of international innovation coming to Swansea.
“ACME worked with Brussels-based structural engineers Ney & Partner to design this bridge made from steel plate.
“The iconic arch stabilizes the super-slender bridge deck and creates a new urban space floating over the road, enclosed by patterned steel offering glimpses across the road, the arena and the new coastal park.
“Until now, Oystermouth Road was for cars, not people. The bridge will be a stepping stone for a greener and more liveable Swansea city centre.”
The work to ease the distinctive bridge into place is being carried out by specialist contractors using two huge mobile transporter units. The units arrived on site this week and the bridge will be loaded up ready for shifting into position.
On Saturday night Oystermouth Road will be closed from 10pm Saturday to 10am Sunday for safety reasons so the transporter units, remotely controlled by specialist operators, can slowly sweep around on a path of around 100m to position the bridge above the abutments.
The bridge will be lowered on pneumatic jacks pre-installed on the abutments. Once the bridge is in place the jacks can be altered to fine-tune the bridge position. The bridge will then be fixed in place and the jacks removed.
It’s expected the bridge will be ready for use in the second half of the year, ahead of the opening of the arena which is on schedule to be completed this year.
Diversions for the road closure will be signposted and will take motorists along West Way, The Kingsway and Princess Way. It’s hoped disruption will be minimal due to the fact the operation will be overnight and traffic in the area has been generally lower in light of recent COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Due to the pandemic people are being urged not to visit the city centre to watch the operation in progress. Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate a live video feed capturing the bridge installation, to allow members of the public to watch the installation process safely from their own homes.
The bridge over Oystermouth Road is a critical element of the Copr Bay development. It is 12 metres wide and 49 metres long – as long as Paris’s Arc de Triomphe is high. Acting as a gateway within the city, it will provide an easy link for pedestrians and cyclists from the main city centre to the new arena, its urban park and café-restaurant and onwards to the marina and Swansea’s famed coastline.
It’ll also encourage footfall between the Copr Bay area and the city centre, encouraging the hundreds of thousands of visitors a year to the arena and its urban park next door into the shopping areas of the city centre.
The deck of the bridge – effectively two storeys above the road – will lead on the level to the arena’s pedestrian entrance and to the parkland. On the other side – a broad shallow ramp will lead from the bridge down towards the area between St Mary’s Church and Iceland.
The ramp will have homes, car parking and commercial units such as independent cafes on one side. On its other side – where the St David’s multi-storey now stands – there will be further development soon as part of the Copr Bay Phase Two.
Copr Bay – www.coprbayswansea.com
FAQs Bridge Installation
So when’s the bridge going to be put in place over Oystermouth Road?
That’s due to take place overnight on March 6/7. The fabrication of the bridge has continued on-site next to the emerging arena since its giant steel panels – for the deck and sides – were delivered by road in October.
How long will the operation take?
Once the bridge starts moving on its transporter units the plan is for it to take around six hours.
Will that mean road closures?
Yes. We plan to close that section of Oystermouth Road overnight on Saturday March 6 – from 10pm Saturday to 10am Sunday. The diversion will be signposted and will take motorists along West Way, The Kingsway and Princess Way. We’ll publicise the closure as soon as we have full details.
Why is the work being done at night?
It’s been planned to take place overnight for safety reasons and to minimise disruption to traffic and the city centre during the day. While the pandemic restrictions have reduced traffic movement generally, an overnight road closure will reduce the disruption further on what remains a busy road. We appreciate that aspects of the work will at times be disruptive to nearby residents and we are grateful to them for their patience and understanding.
How will the bridge installation take place?
In three main steps:
In the days before the bridge is put in place –
- Two large Liebherr cranes, one at each end of the bridge, will lift the structure – of around 150 metric tons – from the temporary steel supports which have formed its cradle during its on-site fabrication. The cranes each have 32m-long booms and are round 33m tall.
- They will position the bridge on two heavy-duty transporters of which there are only a small number across Europe. These will have been positioned earlier alongside the bridge construction site. They will work in parallel to one another. At this stage the span of the bridge will be slightly higher than the reinforced concrete abutments onto which it will be carefully positioned in the forthcoming operation.
On the night the bridge is put in place –
- The transporter units, remotely controlled by specialist operators, will slowly sweep around on a path of around 100m to position the bridge above the abutments. The bridge will be lowered on pneumatic jacks pre-installed on the abutments. Once the bridge is in place the jacks can altered to fine-tune the bridge position. The bridge will then be fixed in place and the jacks removed.
Have other British bridges been installed in this way? Which ones?
Who’s in charge of this operation?
The Copr Bay main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd is overseeing the process. The project manager they have hired for the building and installation of the bridge is SH Structures, specialists in the design, supply, manufacture and installation of complex steel structures. The transporter units will be supplied by Sarens, a global leader in crane rental services, heavy lifting and engineered transport.
Could weather be a negative factor?
Yes, although the weather conditions need to be extreme to postpone the lift. There’d have to be strong wind, low visibility or a high chance of an electrical storm. We’ll be monitoring weather forecasts in the days before the operation.
Can we watch the installation, and take photos and film?
Due to the pandemic people are being urged not to visit the city centre to watch the operation in progress. Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate a live video feed capturing the bridge installation, to allow members of the public to watch the installation process safely from their own homes. After the event, we plan to issue video footage and photos. Bona fide journalists will also be welcome in line with pandemic restrictions so you may see media coverage. Of course, as this is a major construction operation, there’ll be safety marshalls on the night and fencing on the site’s perimeter.
Why can’t it just be lifted and put in place by crane?
There’s insufficient room for giant cranes to operate on the north side of the site – one bridge abutment is close to the block of residential and commercial units under construction there.
Why couldn’t the bridge just have been built in place – on its abutments?
That would have been impractical due to access being needed right around the structure throughout the fabrication process. Its position above one of Wales’ busiest roads wouldn’t have allowed that access.
Was it really necessary to replace the old pedestrian bridge?
Yes. The old pedestrian bridge was narrow. It was fine for its initial purpose but would have been unsuitable to accommodate all those who will use the new bridge as a link between the 3,500-capacity arena, the coastal park next door and the access onwards to the marina. Thanks to its width of up to 12m there’ll be plenty of room for people to use it even at the busiest of times. In addition to that the new bridge will be a new landmark for the city, welcoming and exciting for visitors, residents and shoppers alike.
When can we start using the bridge?
It’ll open in the second half of this year, once building is complete on the rest of Copr Bay Phase One. It will link phase one’s two sides over the main road – the south side with its arena, parkland and car parking, the north side with its homes, commercial units and further car parking. The deck of the bridge – effectively two storeys above the road – will lead on the level to the arena’s pedestrian entrance and to the parkland. On the other side there will be a broad shallow ramp leading from the bridge down towards the area between St Mary’s Church and the Iceland shop. The ramp will have homes, car parking and commercial units such as cafes on one side. On its other side – where the St David’s multi-storey now stands – there will be further development soon as part of the Copr Bay Phase Two.