Lifetime of historic African steel bridge extended

3 March 2016
Drawing on extensive experience with riveted steel bridges, Ramboll will perform a service check on the historic Victoria Falls Bridge at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls Bridge

Victoria Falls Bridge

Bjørn Nordgaard Lassen

Bjørn Nordgaard Lassen

Chief Consultant
M: +45 5161 6127

An historic civil engineering landmark

Originally called the Zambesi Railway Bridge, the parabolic arch design of the Victoria Falls Bridge is a feat of engineering credited to George Hobson. This historic civil engineering landmark was part of Cecil Rhodes’ unfulfilled vision to connect Africa with a railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. It was constructed in England by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company, shipped to the Mozambique port of Beira, and then carried by train to Victoria Falls. The Bridge took just 14 months to build and was opened in 1905 by Professor George Darwin, son of Charles Darwin and President of the British Association (now the Royal Society). The bridge has a span of 156m across a 120m deep gorge where the Zambesi River marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Structural assessment

Even though the Victorian bridge design is exemplary, it needs regular service checks.

In the bridge's 100th year, the World Bank appointed Ramboll to conduct a structural analysis. We examined the bridge in detail and assessed the overall load capacity as satisfactory. Considering the age of the bridge and the humid climate beneath the great waterfall, the structural state of the bridge remains impressive.

Ramboll suggested some limited repair work aimed at extending the functional lifetime of the bridge for another 100 years. At the same time, it was recommended that regular check-ups should take place to identify any early signs of potential deterioration. 

Repair work to extend functional lifetime

In an international competition, the owners of the bridge asked for a renewed checkup in preparation for the necessary repairs. Once again, Ramboll won the project and will use the calculation model and inspection data obtained in 2005.

The Victoria Falls Bridge is another exciting project, both in terms of engineering and aesthetics, says Chief Consultant Bjørn Nordgaard Lassen from Ramboll’s department for Bridge and Tunnel Asset Maintenance.

Ramboll's specialist experience in old riveted steel bridges also includes the Danish Storstrøm Bridge and the Old Little Belt Bridge. 

Ramboll

Ramboll
240 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NW
United Kingdom
Tel:+44 20 7631 5291
Fax:+44 845 299 1610

Mail: london@ramboll.co.uk

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Ramboll UK Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company registration no. 03659970. Registered office: 240 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NW


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