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Overnight work will be a bridge to the future

A key moment in Swansea's £135m indoor arena scheme is due to take place early next month.


The overnight activity on February 1 will see around 25 construction professionals - including 6 demolition experts - remove Swansea's tired-looking 40-year-old Oystermouth Road footbridge. They will use of two 25m-tall cranes.

The bridge will make way - in due course - for a broader, partially covered new landmark bridge.

The removal work is being managed - on behalf of Swansea Council - by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, the principal contractor on the eye-catching Swansea Central Phase One transformation scheme.

The lift of the main span will be undertaken by Caerphilly-based Bond Demolition and Baldwins Cranes who have a Swansea depot.

Swansea Central Phase One will see the 3,500-capacity Digital Arena, parkland and parking created on the site of the former Oystermouth Road car park next to the LC; the new Golden Swan bridge will link all 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.

The main concrete span of the existing footbridge - which crosses Oystermouth Road at a maximum height of 6m near the LC and closed on January 6 - weighs around 150 tonnes. This span, which runs for 28m between two abutments, will be moved by crane to be broken down on the construction site next to the LC.

Detailed preparation work for moving it has been taking place for several weeks. The aim is to begin work on the new structure straight away. Swansea Central Phase One, including the arena, is due to be complete in the second half of next year. 

Council leader Rob Stewart said: "This will be the latest significant moment for a project that will stimulate the success of our city centre for generations to come.

"The momentum is building as we deliver a transformational project for Swansea. Thousands of local residents and visitors share our excitement at the job opportunities and other benefits it will bring.

"The bridge's removal is essential at this time to ensure that work can continue on Swansea Central Phase One; it has already picked up pace since Christmas and we're right on schedule." 

The existing bridge is not suitable for the 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.

The main span is due to be removed on the night of Saturday, February 1 with the use of the 800-tonne cranes.

The overnight work will mean the temporary closure of 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, pedestrians and residents will be maintained at all times.

Those who wish to see the lift take place are encouraged to look on from a distance; Buckingham personnel will be on hand to guide them. The lift site will be protected by safety fencing and marshals.

Council cabinet member for environment and infrastructure management Mark Thomas said: "We thank the public for their understanding and patience at this time as we undertake the complex operation to remove the bridge for the area's transformation.

"This work - taking place overnight to minimise disruption to residents and business - will help in the regeneration of Swansea city centre. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested here by the private and public sectors; this will be a powerful catalyst to boost the future prospects of the whole community.

"The arena will be top class, as will the other components of Swansea Central Phase One. This 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."

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

As work takes place on the creation of almost 1,000 new car parking spaces, a cut-price deal at the neighbouring St David's multi-storey offers parking at just £1 for the first three hours. The offer applies Monday-Saturday. Sundays remain free. Additionally, Swansea's Park and Ride service has a cash-only offer of £1 per car Monday-Friday after 09.30am.

Throughout the construction work over the next 18 months access to city centre businesses, car parks and attractions will be maintained for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

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.

The council and its partners have been liaising with residents and attractions close to the arena site. These include the LC, the National Waterfront Museum and city centre businesses.

Image: Swansea's Oystermouth Road footbridge.



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 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.

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 - from around January 18 until around mid-February - while the concrete is broken down. Pedestrians and cyclists will be asked to 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.

What will happen to the concrete 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.

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

Because the new bridge will be largely take up the footprint of the existing bridge, although it'll be considerably wider, taller, have partial weather cover, will have a much shallower ramp on the north side and, on the south side will have no ramp and will 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.


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