Crucial Harbour Bridge repair works underway

The Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) will over the weekend be carrying out urgent works to replace the pivots at each end of the bridge in what is a self-executed $5 million operation.

General Manager of the DHB Rawlston Adams yesterday assured that the disruption to traffic is expected to be minimal because of the arrangements to be put in place – to restrict only heavily laden trucks which would require a special crossing, where only a single vehicle is allowed to cross at a time.

At the press conference yesterday, Adams spoke of the need to carry out repairs to sections of the bridge that require urgent attention if the safety of the bridge is to be maintained. He said that the work is to be carried out today and tomorrow and will cost the entity about $5 million and will be funded entirely by the DHBC.

One of the pivots to be replaced on the eastern end of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (Photo by Arian Browne)
One of the pivots to be replaced on the eastern end of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (Photo by Arian Browne)

The works will see the replacement of pivots from sections located at the two ends of the bridge. The pivots are said to have come to the end of their productive life and hence must be replaced. Adams said that the pivots that are being changed are those that have been there since the opening of the bridge 35 years ago.

The General Manager said that cars, mini-buses and other light vehicles will not be affected by the repairs over the weekend. However, he said that there would be restrictions to special crossings for heavily laden vehicles. “It is expected that most of the work will be done on Saturday,” he said.

Adams said that the pivots had to be fabricated from an original that was found lying in the compound of the DHBC. The fabrications were done by Courtney Benn Contracting Services. He said that the preparatory works far exceed the cost of the pivots.

The official further revealed that the works to replace the pivots are being carried out by the DHBC itself since they are the only ones with the expertise to carry out such works. He said that the task required months of advance planning. “The skills to do this reside here. We cannot contract out these works,” Adams said.

He said that it was important to replace the pivots since not doing so could put the bridge at risk of a collapse, similar to what occurred last year.

Asked about the plans for a new crossing over the Demerara River, Adams said that by the end of October a study would be completed and a report handed over.

He said that at this stage, the report will be studied and forwarded to Minister of Works Robeson Benn who will in turn advise Cabinet on the options decided upon. He said that while many different options will be considered, the preferred one seems to be a fixed high-level bridge. According to Adams, the sites being looked at for the location of the new bridge are the existing position of the DHB, Versailles and New Hope.

As it relates to the daily traffic build-up, Adams said that this is not a problem connected only to the DHB but to the entire East Bank Demerara corridor.

“There is little that we could do outside of what we have already done to [deal with] the traffic congestion,” he said, referring to the double late crossing that is employed every day to help ease the congestion. Adams said that the DHB staff will have to evaluate how effective the new traffic lights have been.

But he said that there must be a balance struck between the need for road safety around the precincts of the bridge and the need to have a free flow of traffic. He said that there has not been one accident at that junction since the lights were installed.

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