Pacaltsdorp Bridge wins coveted award

The bridge has opened the pathway to economic activity for the Pacaltsdorp community to easily access job opportunities in George.

A small town in the Western Cape, Pacaltsdorp, now has an internationally recognised bridge which is beneficial to the community.

In the apartheid era, it was the “coloured township” associated with George but administrated independently. The N2 highway provided the natural boundary between the two, enforced by a curfew.

The bridge has opened the pathway to economic activity for the Pacaltsdorp community to easily access job opportunities in George.

The pedestrian bridge and interchange at Pacaltsdorp on the N2 is an exceptional example of a successful partnership between three public institutions – SANRAL, the Western Cape Government and the George Municipality – working to benefit  the citizens of South Africa.

The design

Designed using innovative technology with a sophisticated self-anchored stress-ribbon arch bridge structure required highly-skilled structural carpenters and left little room for construction error.

The 65 metre-long continuous four-span self-anchored footbridge enables pedestrians from the Pacaltsdorp township access to work opportunities in George and surrounds. For the team it was a challenge to create a design that attracted pedestrians towards the bridge, and away from the highway.

The building of the pedestrian bridge to accommodate the community of Pacaltsdorp is a positive step towards the George council’s priority of actively improving pedestrian safety along the N2.

The awards

Late last year at the annual South African Institution of Civil Engineering Awards gala event for the Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievements for 2015/2016, it was announced that the bridge had won the Vital Engineering 2016 Award for Structural Engineering.

The prestigious event was attended by industry leaders and dignitaries from across South Africa.

The awards recognise international and technical excellence among individuals and projects, as well as community-based projects. Furthermore, it recognises well-engineered civil projects which find answers to challenging problems.

The team behind this unique structure were SMEC South Africa, COA Architecture & Design and Civils 2000.

The professional team behind the architectural design of Pacaltsdorp Bridge, Craft of Architecture (COA), were thrilled to receive the news.

John van Wyk from COA said: “We are delighted with this award.  The bridge engineer specialist from SMEC, John Anderson, envisioned the original ribbon concept which we embraced and is evident in the structure and detailing. It was a pleasure to work with the team and to have this project recognised”.