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Suspension bridge highlights Rock features

Local firm Bovis Koala undertook the task of constructing a 71-metre long suspension bridge over a 50-metre gorge at Royal Anglian Way and its project manager, Martin Platenkamp, had the task of bringing materials to the “logistical nightmare” location.

The issues encountered were solved by a selection of methods including pure manual labour.

A lot of this work had to be completed out of normal working hours so that it did not clash with tourists and taxi drivers using the Rock. This meant work was done before 9am or after 7pm.

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Speaking about getting the material up to the location Mr Platenkamp said: “When we started negotiating with the specialist sub-contractors (Infraestructures de Muntanya) are used to working in the Pyrenees and the first question they asked is could we come in with a helicopter?”

“We slightly investigated that possibility but that was probably a bigger nightmare than what we eventually did.”

“So we opted going for literally manual handling most of the elements,” Mr Platenkamp added.

One logistical challenge was bringing up 12-metre long anchor bars to the site.  Mr Platenkamp said that the nine-metre or ten-metre long bars which are under the pile foundation acting as micro piles are 40mill in diameter where a challenge and in order to get them into place he needed about six to eight people “to literally walk it to the location.”

This was not the only issues regarding materials and location, Mr Platenkamp said: “one of the other challenges was the main structure cables that hold the bridge literally in its place. They weight one and half tonne each so first you need to transport that to site and unload it, but then you need to literally like a snake bring them to the location because the closest that you can come to the bridge unloading etc is about 100 metres away.”

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The challenges did not end with getting the structure cables to the location, he explains. The cable was “pulled into place with a spider crane but then they pulled it across by literally pushing the cable with about eight persons little by little over a steel cable that was tensioned as a guide.”

“That was pretty amazing. It is like a washing line, they push it two metres then hang it to the steel cable, and push it another two metre.”

Mr Platenkamp is also the project manager on the sky walk at Mount Misery, he said that these two projects are “definitely” the most exciting ones he has worked on since he came to Gibraltar.

Carl Viagas is the project manager for the Government on both schemes. He believes that both the suspension bridge and the sky walk “will put Gibraltar on the international map, I think because of its topography and its geographical location it is a natural piece of art between two continents, an ocean and a sea, to add these elements adds a tremendous significance to what we can enjoy up the Rock.”

He also said it “sits with the branding of the Upper Rock, including the signage, it is all done holistically.”

Mr Viagas said that all this coupled with the Upper Rock Pass app ensures that people can  “see the values of the natural environment we have.”

The suspension bridge is complete and has been handed over to the Government, the opening date or the name for the bridge has not yet been decided, but suggestions have ranged from Sunset Bridge to Battery Bridge, a public competition to name the bridge may be held.

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