Environment

British team wins bridge redesign contract

  • Help on the way: the existing Swing Bridge (Photograph supplied by Knight Architects)

Replacements for Swing Bridge and Longbird Bridge are in the pipeline after a contract for design work was handed to a British team.

Both of the East End structures have suffered major deterioration in recent years, and Swing Bridge was subject to emergency repair work under the One Bermuda Alliance government.

A press release from British firm Double Unit announced a contract for full design services has been awarded to lead consultant Ramboll, Knight Architects and Eadon Consulting after an international tender.

The two bridges form a critical link in the infrastructure of Bermuda, connecting LF Wade International Airport with Hamilton to the west and the Town of St George to the east.

Longbird Bridge was originally constructed in the 1950s as a 60 metres-long twin carriageway steel swing bridge at the east end of the Causeway connecting the island with the airport. However, the bridge closed to traffic ten years ago and was temporarily bypassed with twin Bailey Bridge structures.

Swing Bridge spans 120 metres across Ferry Reach, linking St George’s Harbour with the west of the island, and is a critical link for both vehicular and marine traffic. The 1960s swing bridge has received extensive refurbishment and remains open to vehicles but no longer opens to shipping.

According to the press release, the design team will undertake studies to determine the most appropriate solutions for the new bridges, including fixed and moveable structures.

It added that robustness and durability are key factors as both existing bridges have suffered accelerated deterioration in the tropical climate, which is particularly aggressive to steel structures. In addition, the structures and their mechanisms must be designed to withstand the hurricane-force winds that Bermuda periodically suffers.

The design team have collaborated on many bridge projects and between them are responsible for award-winning moveable structures, including the Twin Sails Bridge, Poole (Britain), Gateshead Millennium Bridge (Britain), Lower Hatea Crossing (New Zealand) and Merchant Square Bridge (Britain).

Commenting on the appointment, Peter Curran, bridges director at Ramboll, said: “We are all delighted to be working on such an exciting project with the Government of Bermuda. We look forward to collaborating to deliver a strong and lasting landmark for the island, one which inspires, connects and can endure the heavy weather conditions that Bermuda has previously suffered.”

Martin Knight, director at Knight Architects, said: “Bermuda is a beautiful and inspiring location for any designer, and it is clear how important these connections are in the everyday life in the island. These bridges are also the entry point for countless tourists every year and they offer an opportunity for gateway structures which reflect the culture and identity of a truly unique place.”

Work on the project will start immediately.