Wooden bridge upgrades imminent

After years of talks between the City, architects and residents, the upgrades to the wooden bridge at Woodbridge Island will start in a few days.

Upgrades on the wooden bridge at Woodbridge Island are planned to start in a few days.

A R20.5 million tender has been awarded to Ruwacon Construction to upgrade the wooden bridge at Woodbridge Island.

The bridge has passed a number of hurdles to get its facelift, including getting approval from Heritage Western Cape (HWC).

The tender was awarded in February to the construction company that specialises in the rehabilitation of government institutions and buildings. Tabletalk sent questions to Ruwacon but the firm refused to answer them.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said work would start within the next few days and that upgrades would be completed by mid-2019 “pending any unforeseen delays or challenges”.

For the last two years, the City has pegged the estimated cost of the restoration project at R30 million.

The City has drawn flak from the public for spending millions of rand on an old rotting bridge when there are so many pressing social issues needing money, including housing and infrastructure in Dunoon, Phoenix, Joe Slovo and other poor neighbourhoods (“Bridge divides community,” Tabletalk, March 29, 2017).

Others viewed the bridge from a heritage standpoint and felt it was worth conserving.

Mr Herron said money for the bridge’s upgrades would come from the City’s non-motorised transport budget which, in turn, was funded by the public transport network grant made available to the City by national government.

National Department of Transport spokesman Collen Msibi confirmed that.

“This project is on the City’s approved non-motorised transport network/programme as per our engagement with the City.

“Once the restoration work has been completed, the bridge will provide a fully functional non-motorised transport link between Woodbridge Island and the existing cycling and walking lane, and the IRT facilities that run along Marine Drive.

“The cycling/walking lane along Marine Drive is very popular among cyclists, residents, and visitors and the restoration of the bridge will add value with improved access to and from Woodbridge Island for non-motorised transport users,” said Mr Msibi.

Milnerton Ridge resident Jackie Thom, a “long-time friend of the bridge”, said she was glad something was happening to preserve “the national asset”.

“I am glad to hear that funding will be coming from a national department and not from the City of Cape Town,” said Ms Thom.

But Terry Crawford-Browne, from Royal Ascot, said just because national government was paying for the upgrades did not make it a “freebie”.

“I still feel it’s a massive misallocation of public resources. It’s money that could have been better spent elsewhere. Dunoon is right on our doorstep. They have a much bigger need of it,” said Mr Crawdford-Browne.

Pat Downing, from Table View, has welcomed the upgrades. “I love history and the preservation of historical things. I hear what people are saying about other urgent needs, but, at the end of the day, you build your future on your history, so I feel it is something worth saving.”