Today the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte will mark a special day by officially opening the 8.5km Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx) when it will take the position as the longest and tallest bridge in the Philippines.
The Cebu-Cordova Expressway links Cebu, the second-largest city in the Philippines, 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. Among others, the bridge had to be designed 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.
From the construction point of view, Clemente Caruso, Design Manager on the project, said: ''One of the most demanding challenges was building the pier tables of the cable-stayed bridge and the erection of 100 tons heavy post-tensioned precast concrete girders of the approach viaducts. 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."
On December 16 2021, Cebu Island was hit by a devastating category-five typhoon named “Odette” with maximum recorded three-seconds gusts speed of about 240km/h, including Cebu City and the area of CCLEC project. Luckily, the bridge did not suffer any damage, and this was a real test for the structure, while widespread destruction affected the city and the island.
Robert Uthwatt, Leading Project Manager on CCLEx, said: "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, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, and all parties are thrilled that this important link is in place."
In a Joint Venture with the Philippine consultancy DCCD, COWI provided Technical Assistance and Owner’s Engineer services during the contract development and construction period, with Dissing+Weitling as bridge architects.