Premier Winde and Minister Mitchell officially open Ashton Arch Bridge

15 August 2021
Department of Transport and Public Works

Joint Media Release by Premier Alan Winde and Daylin Mitchell, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde together with Transport and Public Works Minister, Daylin Mitchell, officially opened the New Ashton Arch Bridge.

The R130 million Ashton Arch, located in the small town of Ashton is South Africa's first concrete tied arch bridge constructed using a transverse launching method. It replaces an existing multi-arch bridge that was built in the 1930s. It is an important tourist destination along the national road crossing the Cogmanskloof River.

The construction of this world-class infrastructure project that created over 500 work opportunities for local citizens commenced five years ago

To minimise traffic disruption, the new bridge was constructed adjacent to the existing bridge thereby maintaining traffic over it. After completion, the new bridge has been used as temporary bypass/river crossing while the existing bridge was demolished, and new abutments built. The new tied arch bridge was launched transversely into its final position in less than 24 hours yesterday (Saturday 14 August), a first of this kind of construction in Africa.

This represents a proud monument for the Western Cape Government, the people of the Ashton-Montagu area, and all the contractors, construction workers and suppliers who were involved in the project.

The modern state of the art structural components were designed, manufactured and installed using complex techniques. These included the concrete arch ribs, post tensioned tie-beams, stay anchors and cables as well as the transverse launching equipment which had to be specially imported.

Using a transverse launching method for a completed concrete tied-arch road bridge is a first in South Africa. More than 8000 tons of concrete and steel were  moved over a distance of 24m in less than 24 hours after several years of meticulous planning, design and construction. The new tied-arch bridge comprises a cable-supported concrete deck which spans 110 metres between supports with arching ribs rising 22 metres above the asphalt road surface.

The original earth-filled multiple arch bridge at this crossing was constructed in 1930 for single lane traffic. In 1950 a substantial structural retro fitment that allowed two-way single carriageway vehicular and pedestrian traffic was undertaken. The superstructure was modified to a cast in-situ beam and slab configuration that maintained portions of the old arch superstructure, including an arch-profile and related hydraulic opening configuration.

The 1950 upgrade was, however, retained at an elevation which still resulted in overtopping with enhanced flood risk to the road and adjacent residential properties. The high river debris load combined with deep deck and wide solid wall piers, orientated at unfavourable skew angles relative to the flow direction, exacerbated the effects of flooding.

Minister Mitchell said the objective of this project was to reconstruct parts of Trunk Road 31 Sections 2 and 3, from Ashton to Montagu (start of tourist Route 62) to a higher standard in order to improve traffic and pedestrian safety as well as improve flood capacity of bridges and resistance to overtopping of the road at several problem locations. This included the Cogmanskloof River crossing in Ashton which has experienced substantial flood damage on several occasions.

“This is a massive contribution to the economy, to an industry under pressure and to the creation of work for our residents. This project created over 500 work opportunities. I am very proud of this achievement. My Department will continue to upgrade, rehabilitate and maintain provincial roads as well as national roads located in the Western Cape and provide Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) work opportunities, develop emerging contractors, and contribute to economic empowerment in local communities where it undertakes projects,”  said Minister Mitchell.

Minister Mitchell added: “I cannot stress enough the importance of safer roads in this province and its benefits of attracting investors and tourists to boost our economy. My department will continue to dedicate resources to constructing, refurbishing, and maintaining roads that change the lives of many for the better.”

The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde said: “For our economy to grow and create the jobs our province needs to recover from the pandemic, we need to invest in world-class infrastructure that improves access to markets. I therefore welcome the opening of the Ashton Bridge today which will improve road access and alleviate congestion along the N1, which is an important route for our regional economy. The development of this bridge would not be possible without the support of each and every stakeholder, from the workers and businesses to the broader community. I thank you for making this impressive bridge possible.”

Media Queries: 
Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka
Spokesperson for Minister Daylin Mitchell
Cell: 082 953 0026