The 8.5km Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx) in the Philippines was officially opened this week.
At 8.5km long including its causeway, the expressway is the longest bridge system in the Philippines, surpassing the 2.1km-long San Juanico Bridge Expressway that opened in 1973.
The Cebu-Cordova Expressway links Cebu, the country’s second-largest city, with Cordova on Mactan Island. More than 40,000 vehicles are expected to use road daily, cutting the travel time between Mactan and Cebu International Airport by 40 minutes and relieving congestion on the existing inter-island crossings.
Designing a cable-stayed bridge in an area heavily impacted by typhoons presents several challenges, including the ability to withstand winds of up to 250km/h. Its superstructure was tested in a wind tunnel to study the structural response of the deck during strong winds, which is a constant concern in tropical regions, and to streamline the shape of the box girder accordingly.
Because of the vital importance of the Mactan Channel and the Port of Cebu City to the economy of the region, the design of the superstructure preserves the navigational clearance during construction and service, allowing ships unhindered access to all marine infrastructures.
The client is Manila-based Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, the toll road development and operation arm of the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation. In a joint Venture with the Philippine consultancy DCCD, Danish engineering consultant COWI provided technical assistance and was the owner’s engineer during the contract development and construction period. Additional input was provided by Dissing+Weitling Architects on the early architectural layout.
''One of the most demanding challenges was building the pier tables of the bridge and the erection of 100 tonnes heavy post-tensioned precast concrete girders of the approach viaducts,” said Clemente Caruso, design manager on the project. Caruso is also Cowi’s design manager for major international bridges, based in the Philippines. “To lift and install these structural components, we used a 120m-long launching gantry, which operated at 50m above the existing coastal road and was remotely controlled from the ground, while supported on the tall piers of the viaducts. An impressive manoeuvre that required us to tread carefully."
Last December, Cebu Island - including Cebu City and the area of CCLEC project - was hit by Odette, a devastating category-five typhoon with maximum recorded three-second gusts of about 240km/h. The city and the region suffered much damage but the bridge remained unscathed, explained Robert Uthwatt, leading project manager on CCLEx and also in Cowi’s international bridges team.
"A project like this requires a skilled team with strong passion and commitment in order to overcome the technical challenges on site, in addition to the events of force majeure that we faced during the construction such as the pandemic [COVID-19] and typhoon Odette. Based on frequent communication and involvement, we have had a smooth collaboration with our client.”
For an in-depth feature on the project, see the World Highways key project report by clicking here.
Cowi’s North America division recently was awarded the client’s engineer for the planned George Massey Tunnel replacement near Vancouver, Canada. Also in North America, Cowi announced that it has agreed to buy Finley Engineering Group.