Paul Sauer Bridge
Paul Sauer Bridge
Storms River Bridge
Storms River, Eastern Cape, South Africa
394 feet high / 120 meters high
328 foot span / 100 meter span
Image by Bob Cortright.
One of 5 large concrete arch bridges located along South Africa’s beautiful N2 Garden route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, the Paul Sauer or Storms River bridge was the first and possibly most interesting to be built along the 2-lane highway. The largest and most famous bridge on the route is the Bloukran’s bridge - Africa’s highest ever at 708 feet (216 mtrs) and the home of the world’s highest bridge bungee jump. This is also the only highway in the world outside of China or Italy to have 3 bridges in excess of 500 feet (152 mtrs) in height.
Completed in 1956, the Ricardo Morandi designed bridge was built 15 years prior to Van Stadens and 28 years before the 3 Bloukrans-area arches came along in 1984. Storms River is unusual for having inclined spandrel supports that radiate out from the main arch rib. The approach supports are also inclined in the opposite direction - balancing out the profile of the entire bridge. The use of inclined supports is a Morandi trait visible on nearly all of his bridges.
Not so evident is the unique construction method by which Morandi built the bridge. Instead of using a highline and adding segments of the arch until the two halves meet in the center, Morandi had both sides of the arch built vertically above the foundations with a climbing formwork on either side of the canyon. The two sides were then carefully tilted outward over the gorge until they could rest on each other at the crown. There are several concrete arch bridges in China that have recently been constructed this way.
In 1986 the Storms River bridge was widened and rehabilitated. Corrosion damage was repaired using impregnating inhibitors and silane cream. Elastic protective coatings were also applied to protect the arch and columns.
If you have the time, there is also a hike down to a small suspension footbridge across the mouth of the Storms River.
Paul Sauer / Storms River Bridge postcard.
Paul Sauer / Storms River Bridge satellite image.