Cape Town – Milnerton’s iconic Woodbridge Island is set for a R20 million makeover.

Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said a tender for the restoration of the historic bridge was expected to be completed by the middle of next year, if there were no unforeseen delays or challenges.

“The contract value is R20.5m, excluding VAT. All of the funding for this project was obtained from a national government grant aimed at promoting non-motorised transport.

“The funds allocated to this project amount to 1.6% of the City’s public transport network grant funding over a period of two financial years,” he said.

The bridge was built in 1901 during the South African War by the Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers in order to gain military access to the island.

Herron said the 117-year-old wooden bridge linking Milnerton to Woodbridge Island was the only bridge of its kind in South Africa.

“It is a provincial Heritage Site and this status is a key consideration in the decision to restore the bridge. Another reason for the restoration is the City’s concerns about public safety.

“The bridge, which spans the Milnerton Lagoon section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve, has been closed since 2007 for safety reasons. The handrails and timber decking in particular are in extremely poor condition.

“Once completed, the restored bridge will provide a fully functional non-motorised transport link between Woodbridge Island and the existing cycling and walking lane facilities that run along Marine Drive,” he said.

The process of restoring the 120m-long bridge would involve dismantling and rebuilding it, with some of repair work taking place under the water, Herron said.

The design would remain the same, except for the addition of an extra handrail, which was needed in terms of modern design codes, he added.

“Original wood that is in good condition will be reused, with the rest replaced with quality, durable timber chosen specifically to minimise the cost of future maintenance.

“Work will be undertaken in accordance with the approved environmental management plan for this sensitive area

“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 Woodbridge Island for cyclists and walkers. By conserving the bridge and opening it for walking, cycling and jogging it will once more be part of a living environment that contributes to community life,” he said.

HISTORIC: The Diep River runs under the bridge to Woodbridge Island in Milnerton. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Asked about the water quality, Herron said it did not form part of the restoration work.

But Herron admitted that the quality of the water in the Diep River system had been monitored since 2000 and as a result of increased urbanisation, the water quality had deteriorated.

“There have been several studies and projects completed in that time, and a further six projects have been identified to improve water quality, at a cost of R61m,” he said.

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