Rehabilitation of Omaruru River Bridge

Vital structure on salt.

The Omaruru River Bridge is a vital structure on the salt road between Swakopmund and Henties Bay in Namibia. The project stemmed from upgrading the salt road and a major gravel road in the region, which is an essential link between the inland communities and coastal towns.

Constructed in 1980, the bridge was discovered to have suffered severe concrete damage and deterioration due to exposure to extremely harsh environmental conditions. Zutari was appointed for the detailed design, tender documentation, contract management and site supervision in a joint venture with Bicon Namibia.

The challenging conditions of the Omaruru River Bridge led the team to take the sustainable and cost-effective approach of demolishing and rebuilding elements of the bridge as repair solutions. This included changing the bridge’s structural configuration from simple to continuous support planned to reduce the number of joints and bearings. The approach was structurally possible since the original deck was simply- supported by two rows of bearings on each side of the piers. This replaced the system with one row of bearings on the centreline of the piers for a continuous deck.

Considering the harsh conditions the repaired bridge would be exposed to during its life, the design team adopted the use of cathodic protection to control the electrochemical reaction leading to the corrosion of steel reinforcement – a method rarely used in Africa, implementing an extensive gutter system to drain water away from bridge elements, and installing waterproofing in critical locations.

The innovative repair and upgrading of the Omaruru River Bridge were accomplished using advanced digital analysis tools throughout the various project phases. MIDAS Civil was used as an analysis and design tool and 3D modelling of the structure in its geographical location.

The Omaruru River Bridge has been designed and upgraded to adapt to harsh environmental conditions.
The bridge’s design includes protected walkways on each side, providing safe passage for pedestrians.

The sophisticated engineering approach to repairing and upgrading the Omaruru River Bridge produced an elegant outcome that met the need for durability and a safer passage for pedestrians from the local communities without significantly affecting the aesthetically neat profile of the original bridge.

The upgraded deck of the bridge includes 1.5-metre-wide pedestrian walkways on both sides of the deck and separated from the roadway by concrete barriers with the benefit of handrails on the outer edges of the walkway. This addition ensures pedestrians the safety they did not have with the original bridge.

*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020.  Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.

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