The government is designing permanent bridges to replace the two flawed bailey bridges commissioned in North Windward on Thursday.
On April 26, MP for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel, said that the opening of the bridges, located at Overland and Noel, would have been pushed back to July so as to allow for remedial workers.
He was speaking just two days after commuters had removed the barricades and driven across the bridges amidst heavy rains in the area.
Then, the government announced that the bridges would be opened on May 11, although the remedial work has not been done.
On April 26, Daniel said:
“And the work was done basically, in that the bridges have already been established but there seems to have been some design flaw in that if you are entering the [Overland] bridge from north going south, the angle you’re entering is almost at a right anger and the levels approaching the degree of slope is somewhat high, so that the design flaw needs to be corrected.”
He said the Ministry of Finance was having discussion with the contractors regarding the cost of correcting the design flaws and the timelines for the remedial work.
Daniel said that once a project is complete, a certificate of completion is issued and the project is handed over to the client, in this case, the government.
“… so, in all of this, the certification of completion is not done so that you can virtually say that the works have not been handed over to the government as yet,” Daniel said.
Daniel addressed the issue of the flaw during the opening ceremony on Thursday, saying, “… after the completion of these bridges, there seemed to have been a design flaw which needed to have been corrected.”
He said that the government, through the ministries of Transport and Works and Finance had decided that the design flaw should be corrected.
“And so just about the time when the work should have been starting, which is approximately three or so weeks ago, we had a serious rainfall within this constituency.”
He said the rivers came down and started creating problems again.
“But the commuters who came by and could not cross the swale decided they will remove the barriers, the existing barriers, that was across the bridge.”
He said the police were called in and the information was communicated to him.
“… rain was still coming, rain was still threatening, and I said the bridges were built for the people to cross. And so, let the people use the bridge.”
Daniel said he went to Cabinet two days later and discussed the matter and the Cabinet decided to open both bridges on May 11.
Daniel, who has been MP for North Windward since 2001, said that since then, he has built crossings over 14 of the 21 rivers in the constituency.
He said crossings were built at Cottage (in Fancy), Caratal, Obrien’s Valley, Basin Hole, Miss Jane, Rabacca, Rawabishi, Overland, Noel, Caro, Cayo, Owia and Kramacou.
He said that the 2023 Budget provides for study and design works for bridges at Little River in Owia, Bony River and the Fancy River.
The bridges in Overland and Noel were built under the Volcanic Eruption Emergency Project, whose project engineer, Nerissa Fergus, told the ceremony that the Overland crossing is a two-lane 30-meter Bailey bridge, while the Noel Bridge is a single lane 30-metre Bailey bridge, each of which has concrete access on both sides.
The Overland Bridge has a one-metre-wide pedestrian walkway which extends the full length of the bridge.
At Noel, the structural design of the abutments and walls were completed by engineer Antonio Moreno of the Ministry of Transport and Works and the access road by engineer Raul Ochoa, also from the Ministry of Transport and Works, Fergus said.
The bridge was constructed by K-Electric Company between August 2022 and February 2023.
The structural design of the abutment and walls at Overland were completed by engineer Alberto Zamora and the approach was by engineer Raul Perez Ochoa.
The bridge was built by Sea Operations SVG Ltd. from August 2022 to January 2023.
Fergus said each bridge has a design life of 50 years.
However, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, told the ceremony that the government will not leave the temporary bridges in place for 50 years.
He said that even as the ceremony was taking place, a company was designing permanent bridges for London, Overland and Noel.
“You see how we put everything together? You don’t wait for a permanent bridge to be built. You build a temporary one to make sure people are safe going back and forth. And then once we have our designs done for the permanent bridge, we will replace the temporary with the permanent and even make your driving experience better than it will be once these bridges are open,” the finance minister said.