David Burch on bridges
House: bridge designs will cost $400,000
British firm Ramboll will be paid $400,000 to design the replacements for Longbird Bridge and Swing Bridge, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said today.
The public works minister revealed both bridges have a lifespan until 2021, and that he expects Ramboll’s study to be completed by January so that rebuilding can begin.
Colonel Burch also assured MPs that the Causeway is sound, adding: “There is no structural or economical argument to support the construction of a new Causeway.”
Swing Bridge, the gateway to St George’s built in the 1960s, has fallen into disrepair in recent years and no longer opens to shipping.
Longbird Bridge, a 60-metre twin carriageway bridge at the east end of the Causeway, was built in the 1950s. It closed to traffic ten years ago, when it was bypassed with twin Bailey Bridge structures.
Colonel Burch told the House of Assembly: “Over the past decade, there has been an increased awareness of the significance of bridges to our nation’s economy and the safety of the travelling public.
“At all levels of government, a concerted effort has been made to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges that require significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement.
“Corrosion is a serious threat to the long-term function and integrity of a steel bridge. This is true for all bridges, but it is more serious in Bermuda where salt water and warm weather are the perfect storm to accelerate corrosion on a steel structure.”
Colonel Burch said the typical lifespan is 50 years for bridges such as Swing and Longbird.
He said: “Our latest studies on the Swing Bridge show that this bridge will have to be replaced within five years.
“The work completed earlier this year will allow us to extend its lifespan until 2021, but it is time to rebuild this essential piece of infrastructure.”
He said of Longbird Bridge: “It was condemned several years ago. Two single spans of Bailey bridge were erected to accommodate traffic as a temporary solution. This temporary solution was put in place in 2007.
“Accelerated corrosion on these bridges forced us to change deck plates earlier this year. In ordinary climate conditions, these plates should last 25 years, but in Bermuda they lasted only ten years. This bridge is safe, but its lifespan is similar to that of the Swing Bridge.”
He said of the Causeway: “Several inspections were performed on the Causeway and various scenarios were also looked at to see what would be the best improvement, for both safety and investment for the taxpayer.
“The Causeway is an old structure, but I am pleased to advise that the Causeway is sound.”
Colonel Burch said the design contract was tendered in February this year.
He described Ramboll as an award-winning, experienced engineering company which has completed many successful bridge projects around the world.
He said with modern technology the target lifespan of the new bridges will be 100 years.
Colonel Burch added that Ricardo Graham-Ward, a young Bermudian engineering trainee, will undergo a six-month secondment with Ramboll as part of the contract.
He said: “This secondment will allow this young Bermudian civil engineer the opportunity to work on this project at the very beginning and be trained by the best moveable bridge engineers in the world.
“I am certain this attachment will provide him with invaluable training and experience that would otherwise not be available to us.”
• To read Colonel Burch’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.
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