The landmark Copr Bay bridge over Oystermouth Road is set to be eased into place in a painstaking event overnight this weekend.
Oystermouth Road will be closed, and diversions put in place on the night of March 6 in an operation that will lift the 150 metric tonne bridge into place over the main road. A new landmark within the city, the bridge will be pivotal in improving access between the city and the Marina to Swansea’s coastline.
It will be a number of months before the pedestrian and cyclist bridge linking the £135m arena and coastal park to the city centre will be ready for use by the public.
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “This is going to be quite a moment in the history of our city centre and our communities.
“With its bold design that will complement the striking façade of the arena, the bridge will become a landmark for the city and an emblem nationally and internationally of a city that is going places.
“The work we’re doing couldn’t be more timely for Swansea and Wales as we emerge from the pandemic.
“We are changing the landscape, we are creating jobs, new opportunities and a new future for our city centre. The bridge, when completed, will be part of that bright future.”
Welsh artist Marc Rees, who designed the pattern on the bridge’s side panels in collaboration with award-winning architects ACME, said: “I am so looking forward to seeing the bridge in situ in all its shimmering golden glory.
“It’s been such a difficult time of late especially for the cultural sector so it’s very timely as we need a positive and aspirational symbol and I hope the bridge will do just that.”
Friedrich Ludewig, Design Director for ACME said: “The new bridge is a true piece of international innovation coming to Swansea.
“ACME worked with Brussels-based structural engineers Ney & Partner to design this bridge made from steel plate.
“The iconic arch stabilizes the super-slender bridge deck and creates a new urban space floating over the road, enclosed by patterned steel offering glimpses across the road, the arena and the new coastal park.
“Until now, Oystermouth Road was for cars, not people. The bridge will be a stepping stone for a greener and more liveable Swansea city centre.”
The work to ease the distinctive bridge into place is being carried out by specialist contractors using two huge mobile transporter units. The units arrived on site this week and the bridge will be loaded up ready for shifting into position.
On Saturday night Oystermouth Road will be closed from 10pm Saturday to 10am Sunday for safety reasons so the transporter units, remotely controlled by specialist operators, can slowly sweep around on a path of around 100m to position the bridge above the abutments.
The bridge will be lowered on pneumatic jacks pre-installed on the abutments. Once the bridge is in place the jacks can be altered to fine-tune the bridge position. The bridge will then be fixed in place and the jacks removed.
It’s expected the bridge will be ready for use in the second half of the year, ahead of the opening of the arena which is on schedule to be completed this year.
Diversions for the road closure will be signposted and will take motorists along West Way, The Kingsway and Princess Way. It’s hoped disruption will be minimal due to the fact the operation will be overnight and traffic in the area has been generally lower in light of recent COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Due to the pandemic people are being urged not to visit the city centre to watch the operation in progress. Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate a live video feed capturing the bridge installation, to allow members of the public to watch the installation process safely from their own homes.
The bridge over Oystermouth Road is a critical element of the Copr Bay development. It is 12 metres wide and 49 metres long – as long as Paris’s Arc de Triomphe is high. Acting as a gateway within the city, it will provide an easy link for pedestrians and cyclists from the main city centre to the new arena, its urban park and café-restaurant and onwards to the marina and Swansea’s famed coastline.
It’ll also encourage footfall between the Copr Bay area and the city centre, encouraging the hundreds of thousands of visitors a year to the arena and its urban park next door into the shopping areas of the city centre.
The deck of the bridge – effectively two storeys above the road – will lead on the level to the arena’s pedestrian entrance and to the parkland. On the other side – a broad shallow ramp will lead from the bridge down towards the area between St Mary’s Church and Iceland.
The ramp will have homes, car parking and commercial units such as independent cafes on one side. On its other side – where the St David’s multi-storey now stands – there will be further development soon as part of the Copr Bay Phase Two.