Sarens' Swift Response: Nelson Mandela Bridge Emergency Restoration
Sarens crew rose up to the challenge of renovating sections of the Nelson Mandela Bridge in the Netherlands
January 2024

The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, faced a critical risk of collapsing due to dangerous cracks, particularly exacerbated by severe frost. The bridge, a vital connection commissioned in the early 1990s, was immediately closed, disrupting the city's traffic flow and impeding access to Zoetermeer station. In an emergency response, Sarens was called upon to remove the damaged section, replacing it with a temporary structure to swiftly restore the crucial traffic and movement of trains and pedestrians.

Sarens was tasked with the urgent removal of a large portion of the bridge and the installation of a temporary replacement, a task that required the complete closure of the A12 for almost a week.

The weight of the bridge section was approximately 800T, with a total transport weight of around 1240T. The bridge measured approximately 37m in length, 10m in height, and 10m in width. Notably, the fragile glass windows and gates of the bridge added a layer of complexity to the planning and execution.

To execute this critical operation, Sarens utilized 80 axle-lines SPMT (Self-Propelled Modular Transporters) and a fleet of cranes, including two 700-tonne cranes, one 500-tonne crane, and one 650-tonne crane. The planning phase focused on the safe and environmentally responsible dismantling of the bridge. Partitions were strategically created in the frames to facilitate the bridge's removal, and meticulous load calculations determined the optimal number and configuration of equipment for deployment.

The bridge section was carefully lifted by the four cranes, placed onto the SPMTs, and moved away and a new temporary bridge section was installed in January 2023. The limited space during dismantling, especially considering the A12 motorway beneath the bridge, presented a significant challenge. Sarens meticulously managed a tight schedule to minimize traffic disruption. Subsequently, a new temporary bridge section was lifted and swiftly installed, ensuring a rapid restoration of vital transportation links.

The removed section, carefully maneuvered during the operation, is slated for reinstallation in the future, ensuring a comprehensive and sustainable approach to bridge restoration. Sarens' prompt and effective response not only averted a potential disaster but also demonstrated Sarens’ expertise in handling complex bridge projects safely.