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Aurecon wins SAICE Technical Excellence Award for Olifants River Bridge project

Aurecon was appointed by SANRAL to improve the bridge and associated infrastructure in 2013.

Aurecon was appointed by SANRAL to improve the bridge and associated infrastructure in 2013

24 October 2019 – The Olifants River Bridge won the award for Technical Excellence at the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) Annual Awards.

The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) appointed global engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon to improve the bridge and associated infrastructure in 2013. The Bridge was completed in 2018, achieving SANRAL’s goal of improving an important economic link between South Africa and Namibia for tourism and freight.

Gustav Rohde, Aurecon Managing Director, Africa, comments: “Aurecon would like to thank SANRAL for entrusting us with this mega project. We are honoured to receive a prestigious SAICE award, which recognises and celebrates the success we have achieved in collaboration with our clients and project partners. The ability to harness the creativity of a cross-disciplinary team and the use of smart technology has enabled us to create a future-ready infrastructure solution for South Africa.”

About the Olifants River Bridge

The N7 in the Western Cape is a strategic trade route between South Africa and Namibia. The existing bridge over the Olifants River could not accommodate increasing traffic loads. To improve the service level of the road, the design team had to design a new structure next to the existing bridge.


Expansion joints and bearings, which are high maintenance items on bridges, were reduced by providing a continuous deck and integral piers. The integral piers, however, attract forces due to horizontal loads on the deck which are related to their stiffness. The piers of the bridge had to be large enough to resist the vertical reactions from the deck and be slender enough to avoid attracting large forces. This structural compromise could be achieved for the tall piers due to their natural slenderness, but it was a near-impossible task for the shorter piers that are supported on the arch. To overcome this challenge, the design team introduced a concrete hinge at the top of the short piers. The design change led to reduced stiffness of these columns and the moments were significantly reduced.

“From the outset, the design team strived to produce an exceptional structure. Through the innovative

Local residents were upskilled via training programmes and employed for the construction of the Bridge. In June 2019, the project won a Fulton Award for Infrastructure projects up to R100 million in value. use of an ancient structural form, constructed with modern materials and analysis techniques, we believe that we have achieved our goal. The recognition that we have received from our peers through the SAICE award makes us extremely proud and serves to affirm this belief,” says Hennie Niehaus, Aurecon Technical Director.

SANRAL appointed Aurecon to improve the Olifants Bridge and associated infrastructure in 2013.

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