The existing Swing Bridge, Bermuda (image: Knight Architects)
The two bridges form a critical link in the infrastructure of Bermuda, connecting L. F. Wade International Airport with capital city Hamilton to the west and St. Georges to the east. Longbird Bridge was originally constructed in the 1950s as a 60m-long twin carriageway steel swing bridge at the east end of the 1km-long causeway connecting the island with the airport, however the bridge closed to traffic 10 years ago and was temporarily bypassed with twin Bailey Bridge structures. Swing Bridge spans 120m across Ferry Reach, linking St George’s Harbour with the west of the island, and is a critical link for both vehicular and marine traffic. The 1960s swing bridge has received extensive refurbishment and remains open to vehicles but no longer opens to shipping.
The design team will undertake studies to determine the most appropriate solutions for the new bridges, including fixed and movable structures. Robustness and durability are key factors as both existing bridges have suffered accelerated deterioration in the tropical climate, which is particularly aggressive to steel structures. In addition, the structures and their mechanisms must be designed to withstand the hurricane force winds which Bermuda periodically suffers.
As well as their use by islanders, each bridge is crossed by visitors arriving daily to the airport and the team will additionally explore the potential of both structures to offer architectural landmarks which enhance the potential bf this popular tourist destination.
The highly-experienced design team has collaborated on many bridge projects and between them is responsible for several award-winning movable structures, including the Twin Sails Bridge, Poole (UK), Gateshead Millennium Bridge (UK), Lower Hatea Crossing (NZ) and Merchant Square Bridge (UK).
Commenting on the appointment, Peter Curran, Bridges Director at Ramboll in the UK, said: "We are all delighted to be working on such an exciting project with the Government of Bermuda. We look forward to collaborating to deliver a strong and lasting landmark for the island, one which inspires, connects and can endure the heavy weather conditions that Bermuda has previously suffered."
Martin Knight, Director at Knight Architects, said: "Bermuda is a beautiful and inspiring location for any designer and it is clear how important these connections are in the everyday life in the island. These bridges are also the entry point for countless tourists every year and they offer an opportunity for gateway structures which reflect the culture and identity of a truly unique place."
Work on the project will start immediately