|In 1930 the bridge was widened to permit road traffic and one of the two rail tracks was
removed. This modification involved a widening by 13 ft to carry the road and sidewalks,
and the bridge floor was raised 4ft 6in in height, the work being done by the Cleveland
Bridge Co, which had built the structure in 1905.
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Adding a road
Originally, the Victoria Falls bridge was designed for two lines of rail.
The Minutes of the Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers,Vol CLXX contains a paper
on the bridge and the following extract is of interest. "The bridge was designed to carry two
lines of rail track of the usual South African gauge. For the sake of lateral stability,it was
deemed desirable to provide a width sufficient for these two lines of track"
At the time the bridge was designed motor vehicles hardly existed in this part of the world.
A Guide to Rhodesia published I must admit by the Beira and Mashonaland and
Rhodesia Railways in 1924 states that the only practicable way of reaching the Victoria
Falls was by rail.
In 1930 the Government started laying down strip roads. These consisted of two parallel
strips of concrete or asphalt each 0,6m wide and 0,8m apart to suit the standard vehicle
wheel track. The strip road from Bulawayo to the Falls only reached the Falls in 1941.
Prior to World War Two most people including those who had cars used rail for intercity
travel as the roads were so bad. Even in the 1950s it was possible to be held up for days
at low level bridges on the main roads during the rainy season.
It can be assumed that the Design Engineers had good engineering reasons for deciding
on the width of the bridge and in the early 1900's the possibility of motor vehicles using the
bridge in the future was not a major factor.
Contributed by: Robin Taylor