The 284-meter-long Nelson Mandela Bridge, which connects Constitutional Hill Precinct in Braamfontein to the Cultural Precinct in Newtown, the centre of the city’s inner-city renewal initiative, essentially begins at the end of Jan Smuts Avenue. The R38 million, two-year-long construction of the Nelson Mandela Bridge was completed over the 40 railway lines that are dispersed beneath its span. Nelson Mandela himself performed the ceremonial opening.
The bridge features two lanes of vehicles, two sidewalks for pedestrians, and a bicycle lane. The remarkable variety of artworks adorning the buildings the bridge travels over makes the trip there worthwhile (the city has some 65 artworks in total decorating its buildings).
The bridge’s simplicity makes it immensely appealing visually. The bridge’s four tubular steel, concrete-filled pylons are its main component and essential to its engineering. The Johannesburg Nelson Mandela Bridge was recognized by the SA Institute of Civil Engineers in 2003 as “the most outstanding civil engineering project achievement in the technical excellence category” because it is supported by the largest pot bearings ever installed in the nation and is intended to withstand any stresses to the bridge.
The bridge is a magnificent beacon that illuminates the sky at night. Countless South Africans and foreigners alike may see it from the M1 highway as its massive span dominates the horizon amid the city skyscrapers.