The Nelson Mandela Bridge
Paris has its Eiffel Tower, New York its Statue of Liberty, Sydney its Harbour Bridge.
And downtown Johannesburg has the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge.
Named after the man who led South Africa across the apartheid divide, the bridge
was opened by Nelson Mandela in July 2003. Crossing no less than 46 operational
railway lines, the 284-metre-long bridge is largest cable-stayed bridge in southern
Designed by Dissing+Weitling
, the bridge has won numerous awards,
including the South African Institute of Civil Engineering award for technical
The bridge links the Braamfontein business area with the Newtown precinct. Taking
two years to build, the bridge was at the heart of a inner city renewal project by
province's economic development initiative, Blue IQ. (Blue IQ has since
merged with the Gauteng Development Agency to become the Gauteng Growth and Development
The rejuvenation project aimed to create a "cultural arc" – a crescent from
Constitution Hill through Braamfontein and down to Newtown, which is now known as
the city's cultural precinct.
The bridge links important civic and cultural institutions: the Constitutional Court, the
Civic Theatre and Wits University in Braamfontein; Mary Fitzgerald Square, the Market
Theatre and the 1913 Museum Africa in Newtown.
Other attractions in the area are the Dance Factory, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
and the SAB World of Beer. The square regularly hosts several big events, including
the Joy of Jazz festival and Diwali.
During 2011's Joburg
, South African
designer David Tlale
turned the bridge into the longest ramp in the
history of South African fashion. Tlale's “Made In The City” collection featured 92
models in celebration of 92 years of Nelson Mandela’s life.
In 2012, the City of
and a cosmetics company lit the bridge pink for a week in an
effort raise awareness about breast cancer.
Facts about the bridge
Nelson Mandela Bridge carries two lanes of traffic and has two sidewalks for
pedestrians as well as a cycle path, with a continuous toughened glass parapet to
ensure pedestrian safety.
According to Construction Weekly
Reviewed: 18 June 2013
- The asymmetrical dual-pylon cable-stay bridge is made up of a 66-metre north
back span, a 176-metre main span and a 42-metre south back span, giving a total
length of 284 metres.
- The north pylon is 42-metres high and the south pylon 27-metres high, creating a
delicate balance and an interesting visual appeal.
- The main span was built as light as possible, using structural steel with a
concrete composite deck, while the heavier back spans were built from reinforced
concrete to counterbalance the long main span.
- The bridge is supported on the largest pot bearings ever to be installed in South
Africa. The 1.5-metre diameter bearings, which have a capacity of up to 27 Mn, are
designed to accommodate the large temperature movements of the bridge.
- Approximately 4 000 cubic metres of concrete and 1 000 tons of structural steel
were used to construct the bridge, with around 500 tons of reinforcing steel cast into