The Arch Bridge In Ashton En Route To Montagu Springs

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If you haven’t visited Montagu Springs in the last two years, you may not have seen the completed Arch Bridge in Ashton yet! In 2021, after 7 years of planning and construction, the bridge was finally opened. The 110-metre-long bridge is something to behold – it is a first for South Africa in its transverse launching method and provides some comedic architecture for families heading on holiday.

The Ashton Arch Bridge, located on Trunk Road 31 crossing the Cogmanskloof river, was built to improve traffic and pedestrian safety and improve flood capacity and resistance to overtopping. It is South Africa’s first concrete tied arch bridge constructed using a traverse launching method and the bridge is close to the starting point of the famous Route 62. The previous bridge was built in the 1930s and had upgrades in the 1950s, but ultimately no longer fulfilled its functional requirements, inter alia service life, width, and hydraulic capacity. Flooding was a frequent problem which cut off the route between Ashton and Montagu, and thus the bridge had to be replaced.

The superstructure for the bridge was completed mid-2020 adjacent to the existing road and was launched traversely into its final position between 14 and 15 August 2021, which was a first for South African construction, in less than 12 hours. The bridge was moved 24 metres into position. This method was chosen to minimise traffic disruptions: the old bridge was used while the new one was being built; traffic was then temporarily bypassed to the new bridge as the old one was demolished, and new abutments were built. The tied-arch bridge has a cable-supported concrete deck which spans 110 metres between supports and weighs around 8000 tons, but the eye-catcher and the reason we describe it as ‘comedic architecture’, is the 22-metre-high arching ribs. The bridge looks comical and elicits a giggle precisely because of its seeming excessively high arch!

But don’t take our word for it – on your next visit to Montagu Springs, be sure to keep an eye out for this magnificent bridge as you pass through Ashton, the last town before Montagu.

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