Plans submitted to replace East End bridges
Plans to replace two deteriorating East End bridges have been submitted to the Department of Planning.
The documentation shows the replacement of Longbird Bridge at the location of the former bridge on the eastern end of the Causeway, while the replacement Swing Bridge would be built to the immediate east of the existing bridge.
Plans to replace the ageing bridges have long been discussed, but financial challenges in recent years have slowed the progress.
An environmental impact statement included with the applications said the Swing Bridge, which links St George’s with St David’s, was built in 1964.
While the bridge was the subject of major rehabilitative work in 2002 and 2007, the structure is now considered “beyond economic repair”.
The impact statement said the proposed replacement would be a hydraulically operated lift opening structure to be built parallel to the existing structure to its immediate east.
The bridge would take up to three years to build and will allow a clearance of 13.6ft for boats at high tide when closed.
Longbird Bridge, which connects St David’s to the Causeway, was originally built in 1952. While the bridge was designed to open to allow marine traffic through, it was permanently closed in 2007.
The bridge structure was removed in 2020 with a pair of fixed Mabey bridges installed as a temporary move to allow the continued flow of traffic.
The impact statement said the new Longbird Bridge would be fixed and constructed over a 15-month period.
The prefabricated steel structure would be floated into place and set on newly built concrete abutments to the north and south side, offering boats 12ft clearance at high tide.
The study stated that alternative sites for the new bridges had been considered, but determined to be less ideal.
In the case of the Swing Bridge, the study authors considered using a location farther east that had been used for the former Severn Bridge. However, such a proposal would be more expensive.
“The Government owns the roadway on either end of the existing Swing Bridge and the Severn Bridge,” the study said. “It also owns the land immediately to the east of the existing Swing Bridge.
“Consideration was given to the erecting a new bridge at the Severn Bridge location, but this would necessitate land purchase on the northern side, driving up costs.”
In the case of Longbird Bridge, the study said alternatives included bridges from Coney Island to Ferry Reach or from Coney Island to St David’s.
“The former would require extensive road and bridge upgrades on both Coney Island and Ferry Reach Road, and land purchase along Ferry Reach, resulting in broad-scale impact to the whole neighbourhood,” the study said.
“The latter would involve road and bridge upgrades on Coney Island and a bridge with a span equivalent to the whole length of the existing Causeway tying in to a Kindley Field Road connection that would likely be incompatible with the new service roads at the LF Wade International Airport.”
It had been predicted that the Swing Bridge and Long Bird Bridge would reach the end of their useful lives in 2021.
Designs for the replacement bridges were unveiled in 2018. However, the project was subsequently put on the back burner because of the economic challenges faced by the Government.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said last year that $400,000 had been earmarked in this year’s Budget for repair work on the Swing Bridge with a request for quotations for urgent repairs to the structure put out in March.
In May, the Government put out a request for proposal seeking firms to provide an independent review of the replacement bridge plans.