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Farewell plans announced for city bridge

Swansea's tired-looking 40-year-old Oystermouth Road footbridge is due to come down on the weekend of February 1/2.


Its removal will make way - over the coming months - for a much broader, internally lit, partially covered new landmark bridge that will be part of the £135m indoor arena scheme now being built.

Swansea Central Phase One will see the 3,500-capacity arena, parkland and parking created on the site of the former Oystermouth Road car park next to the LC.

The new gold-coloured bridge will link these to the scheme's new multi-storey car park, commercial units and homes on the site of the St Mary's temporary ground level car park, close to Tesco Marina.

Here are some of your key questions about the bridge removal, answered by council leader Rob Stewart.


Why must the bridge be removed?

It's not suitable for the £135m Swansea Central Phase One transformation scheme which, as a stronger link between city and sea, will see many more people - including arena visitors - walk and cycle over Oystermouth Road.

When's it coming down?

The removal is due to take place overnight from 10pm on February 1 to 10am the following morning. If bad weather intervenes, we'll reconsider.

What time will the lift actually happen?

It's difficult to give an exact time at present because the time taken on the preparatory work, including getting the lifting gear into place, is variable. It's a complex operation so the timings will depend on a number of factors. Most of the time allocated - 10pm to 10am - will be spent setting up and clearing up; the lift itself will take a much more modest length of time in between.

How big is the bridge?

The main concrete span crosses Oystermouth Road at a maximum height of 6m and weighs around 150 tonnes. The span runs for 28m between two abutments.

How much of the bridge will be lifted on the night?

The central span - that is the 28m concrete platform that now stretches between the two vertical abutments. The plan is to have removed to southern ramp section beforehand, the northern ramp in the weeks afterwards.

How will it be moved?

Using two 25m-tall 800-tonne cranes.

Who'll be involved?

Around 25 construction professionals. The operation is being managed - on behalf of the council - by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, the principal contractor on Swansea Central Phase One. The lift will be undertaken by Caerphilly-based Bond Demolition and Baldwins Cranes who have a Swansea depot. Detailed preparation work for moving it has been taking place for several weeks.

Where will the cranes place the span?

On the ramp area alongside the Mumbles-bound carriageway of Oystermouth Road; the ramp will have been removed by then. The neighbouring pavement will be closed temporarily for your safety - until around mid-February - while the concrete is broken down for recycling. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the road using the lights-controlled crossings at the foot of Albert Row and Princess Way, and continue their journey on the opposite pavement. We thank them for their understanding.

Will the public be able to watch the lift?

Yes - at a safe distance. A safety cordon will be set up around the site, it will be well floodlit and marshals will be there to help keep spectators safe. Areas will be made available for viewing. Just ask the marshals!

Can I photograph or film the lift?

Yes - at a safe distance. Marshals will be around the edge of the lift site, including on the top deck of the St David's multi-storey car park. Please let them know if you'll be filming or taking photos - your safety is their priority.

Will the lift operation mean disruption for drivers, local residents and businesses?

We plan to keep this at a minimum. The overnight work will mean the temporary closure of the stretch of Oystermouth Road between its Princess Way and West Way junctions from 10pm on the Saturday to around 10am on the Sunday. Diversions will be signposted. They will take motorists through the city centre, a diversion of one to 1.5 miles. Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times except during the short period of the lift itself. Pedestrians and residents will have to remain out of the main operation area from 10pm-10am. The two construction sites will, of course, remain out of bounds. Throughout the Swansea Central Phase One construction work over the next 18 months access to city centre businesses, car parks and attractions will be maintained for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. We thank the public for their understanding and patience at this time as Buckingham undertake their complex construction operation.

What about the pavements beneath the old bridge?

The pavement on the LC side will be temporarily closed until around mid-February. The footway on the multi-storey side will close temporarily once the LC side reopens - and it will stay closed for a few weeks while the bridge ramp on that side is removed. In the case of both temporary closures, pedestrians are asked to use the lights-controlled crossings at the foot of Albert Row and Princess Way, and to continue their journeys on the opposite side.

What will happen to the concrete and metalwork from the bridge?

It will be recycled - broken down by the demolition firm and reused, probably by the construction industry.

What will happen to the commemorative plaque on one of the bridge's abutments? It commemorates the Swansea and Mumbles Railway 1804-1960.

It'll be removed with care by Buckingham and handed to the council for future use.

When will the new bridge be put in place?

That's due to happen in the second half of this year, in good time for the opening - in the second half of 2021 - of the whole Swansea Central Phase One scheme, including the 3,500-capacity arena, car parking, parkland, homes and commercial units. The bridge will open when the whole scheme opens. The aim is to begin work on the new bridge structure straight away.

Why does there have to be a period without a bridge crossing?

Because the new bridge will largely take up the footprint of the existing bridge, although it'll be considerably wider, taller and have weather cover. It will also have a much shallower ramp on the north side and, on the south side, will have no ramp because it'll be on the same level as the arena's main pedestrian entrance. The old bridge has to be out of the way to allow construction teams to build Swansea Central Phase One. The bridge's removal is essential at this time to ensure that work can continue there; it has picked up pace since Christmas and we're right on schedule.

In the temporary absence of a bridge, how do we cross the road?

With the temporary absence of a bridge, pedestrians are asked to cross the main road via nearby ground level lights-controlled crossings.

Who's paying for all this?

Swansea Council is behind Swansea Central Phase One, with some funding for the arena coming from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal. Some funding for the new bridge comes from the Welsh Government's Active Travel Fund.

What benefits will all this work bring?

It will help in the regeneration of Swansea city centre. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested around town by the private and public sectors; Swansea Central Phase One will be a powerful catalyst to further boost the future prospects of the whole community. The arena will be top class, as will the other components of Swansea Central Phase One; its new district will link the city centre with our world-class coast in a way that will really make people sit up and take note.

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