A historical moment in bridge construction will occur in mid-2016 when the longest incrementally launched bridge in South Africa is completed.
The one-kilometre-long bridge will form part of the improvements being undertaken by SANRAL at the N2/M41 Mt Edgecombe Interchange north of Durban, connecting Phoenix and Umhlanga with Durban and the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
Incremental launching is a method of building a complete bridge in segments that saves time, money, space, reduce disruption and requires less work while easing access and delivering a high-quality finish.
Corne? Roux, Project Manager for SANRAL Eastern Region, said due to the growth of the Umhlanga and La Lucia Ridge areas, the existing interchange is operating at capacity with vehicles backing up on the M41 and onto the N2 in peak hours.
“An additional 40 000 vehicles enter or leave the N2 from the M41 daily resulting in substantial queuing of vehicles during the day.
This, together with expected future expansions and anticipated development of the Cornubia area, required the existing interchange to be upgraded in order to improve the flow to and from the N2 and M41 to the supporting road network.”
Roux said the new four-level interchange facility will provide at least two lanes on each of the major movements. The upgrade includes the implementation of directional ramps, which will eliminate the need for controlled signalisation, thus ensuring the free flow of traffic in all directions.
To provide for the safety of pedestrians, a bridge will be constructed over the N2 and connect to new footways.
The construction of the interchange is jointly funded by SANRAL and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport.
The SMMEs working on the Mt Edgecombe Interchange project would benefit from gaining invaluable experience and transfer skills.
Henk Kaal, the engineer from SMEC, who is overseeing the N2/M41 Mt Edgecombe Interchange, said the main advantages for using the incremental launching method rather than other traditional methods, are the minimal disturbance to environmentally sensitive areas; the need for a smaller assembly zone; less disruption to traffic; and greater safety for motorists and pedestrians during construction.
He said two incrementally launched bridges are being built as part of the interchange upgrade. One bridge, which is 948m long, joins the Mt Edgecombe side of the M41 with the N2 South. The other bridge is 440m long and joins the Umhlanga side of the M41 with the N2 North.
The 948m bridge will have 23 piers and two abutments and is being built from two ends – one portion is being launched on a curve and the other on a straight and they are expected to meet in the middle of next year – 2016. The 440m bridge will have nine piers and two abutments.
Speaking of the benefits derived by SMMEs working on a project such as the Mt Edgecombe Interchange, Frans Boraine, who works for a sub- contractor, said by giving SMMEs the opportunity to be part of a large contract, big business provided invaluable experience and transfer skills.
“South Africa needs jobs. SMMEs create more than 50 percent of all employment opportunities in South Africa, while contributing 45% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Also, SMMEs cannot afford to purchase all the materials needed on a site and big business helps in this regard. Big business also makes available expensive equipment and provides advice and mentorship.”
Boraine also said big business needed SMMEs for their BEE ratings because a component of the contract with SANRAL dictates that a certain percentage of the work must be done by BEE/ SMME contractors.
The project is anticipated to be completed in October 2016.