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$3.3 million bridge opens at Caratal

$3.3 million bridge opens at Caratal

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The people of the North Windward constituency were given an early Independence gift last Monday, with the official opening of a $3.3 million bridge at Caratal, Georgetown.

The opening ceremony for the new clear span bridge came approximately two years after floods destroyed the previous structure on December 24, 2013.{{more}}

During remarks at the ceremony, chief engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Works Brent Bailey said because of the significant damage done by heavy rains in the past, the design philosophy of building bridges had to be changed. He said the engineers in his ministry therefore changed the original bridge design from a three-span bridge to a 71-foot clear span bridge.

“The primary reason for this is based on the experience we saw during the floods of December 2013, that there was a lot of debris coming down in the floods and because of the intermediary, piers got blocked at the bridge and causing dams at the bridge, destroyed everything around it.”

The old bridge collapsed and fell into the river during the floods of December 2013.

The chief engineer said the new bridge is equipped with five 76-foot long Aashto type three beams, which are five feet, six inches in depth.

“Not only were we required to the raise bridge to be clear of flood waters, we also had to make provisions for the beams to support the bridge. The resulting change was that the height of the bridge now had to be eight feet to nine feet above the original.

“There were other elements we had to consider. We had to create abutments on either side, ramps on either side and drainage, of course, becomes an issue. We had to create additional drains alongside the ramps and the roads to ensure that whatever water is collected at the bridge, it finds way into the river.”

The bridge also gives a total clearance of 11 feet above the river bed, which will essentially triple the total volume of water that can pass underneath the bridge.

Bailey added that the new bridge is “100 per cent Vincy”, noting that it was designed by Vincentian engineers.

“All worked closely to ensure that the quality on this project met the highest engineering standards. This is a Vincentian supervised project…”

Bailey also commended and congratulated those who contributed to the successful completion of the bridge. He stated that work will now focus on providing river defences to the bridge, both up and down stream.

He also disclosed that at present, a coastal defence system, extending from Langley Park river to the Georgetown playing field and the Grand Sable river, is being designed.

This coastal defence system is estimated to cost EC$52 million.

Delivering the feature address, Prime Minister and Minister of Transport and Works Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who said the bridge was an independence gift, described the new structure as “simply magnificent”.

“It has a place on either side that people can walk. And just in case you want to go down, it has a step. It is a lovely spot and I know that the young and old will not only be using it as a bridge to pass, but they will be using it to hang out,” Gonsalves said.

He told listeners that parcels of land around the bridge will be used to build a bus terminal, market facility and a basketball court.

Parliamentary representative for the North Windward constituency, Montgomery Daniel, described the occasion as a “happy day” in the constituency, adding that one could not have asked for a better Independence gift.

Daniel said the bridge is another milestone and adds to the many infrastructural developments in North Windward.

“When one looks at the structure and the design, for me, it brings memories back to me of big city life… It shows how much this administration cares for the quality of work that is done. I am indeed happy to be part of this administration that is on path to the development and transformation of this country,” he said.

Daniel said while much has been done in the constituency, there’s much more to be done, adding that the public roads and bridges will be addressed over his next five years as area representative.

With the completion of the bridge, the bypass bridge, which had been used in the interim, will now be closed and the remaining housing lots will now be made available for persons who had already made applications.

Brief remarks were also given by contractor George Bailey of Bailey Construction.

The project was financed by the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) through an $8 million credit facility that was established following the December floods.(KW)

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