You cannot miss the bridge when driving to and from the CBD (Central Business District) of Johannesburg. The bridge runs from the end of Jan Smuts Avenue and links Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein to Newton.
This spectacular bridge is 284 metres long and it is estimated that +- 4 000 cubic metres of concrete and 1 000 tons of structural steel were used to construct the bridge.
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. The north pylon is 42 metres high and the south pylon 27 metres high, creating a delicate balance. Engineers tried to keep the bridge as light as possible but it also had to deal with the fluctuating temperatures.
The bridge is supported on the largest pot bearings ever to be installed in South Africa.
The bridge crosses over 42 operational railway lines and it a very important bridge in Johannesburg. The bridge carries two lanes of traffic, two sidewalks for pedestrians and a cycle path.
The bridge was named after former president Mr. Nelson Mandela. The bridge is a symbol of the unity that he has tried to establish in South Africa. What a great honour!
In recent years a lot of copper wire has been stolen from the bridge. This resulted in 24 hour surveillance cameras as well as tighter security. I am not really surprised because copper theft in South Africa is a huge problem.
It has become a tourist attraction over the years but if you live in South Africa and drive on the roads daily you hardly notice the bridge anymore. I have driven over this bridge many, many times while I was living in South Africa. In fact a lot of the steel that was used for this bridge was supplied from the steel company that I worked for!
But when I returned to South Africa in June this year, I looked at the bridge with different eyes and appreciated its beauty.