(Trinidad Express) The catastrophic collapse of part of the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road on Sunday as a result of flood waters that carved a new watercourse was inevitable, and if rain were to continue to fall regularly, there would be more damage.
And until it can be repaired, thousands of people headed east from Mayaro will have to commute through Rio Claro.
Director of the Highways Division in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Roger Ganesh, said the road’s damage was the worst he had seen in his 34 years as an engineer.
He said it could cost more than TT$5 million to build a temporary road, and more than TT$50 million for a permanent replacement. Part of the road was still under water yesterday, but more than 300 metres of the surface has been swept away.
The road has been closed until further notice.
Ganesh, who visited the devastated area yesterday, said nothing could be done to fix the road until all water was completely drained.
The Manzanilla-Mayaro Road runs between Manzanilla and Mayaro, between the Nariva Swamp and the coastline. The area has suffered devastating floods before, with residents recalling a similar wash-out in the 1970s.
“It is like a lake inside here,” Ganesh said yesterday,
He intends visiting the area again today to assess damage.
He said, “From what I saw this morning the damage there, it is quite extensive. We have at least 300 metres of roadway completely gone.”
Ganesh told the Express, “The whole lagoon became filled to capacity and started spilling over on the roadway to find its way. The water cuts across the road to get to the sea. The whole system overloaded with the amount of rain falling and that caused the erosion which caused the road to fail. I wouldn’t say because of surges of undermining. It was just the nature of the water to flow into the seas that caused the road to wash away completely.”
He added, “The amount of rain that fell and the velocity force of the water coming out of the lagoon caused the wash-offs. It was not because of poor work.”
Ganesh said the ministry will be able to say by this weekend exactly what was the extent of damage and what would be the approximate cost to fix it.
Also by weekend, a plan will be in place to construct a temporary connectivity road, where the damage is now situated, he said.
Traffic diverted to Cunapo
The permanent structure which may cost at least TT$50 million will take at least three months to complete and should not fail if there was another excessive rainfall, he said. The temporary road should be built within a three-week-period and may cost about TT$5 million, Ganesh said.
Works on both roads will begin simultaneously, he said.
Usually, the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road would be used by heavy trucks and equipment belonging to oil companies that operate out of Mayaro and Guayaguayare.
Ganesh said he did not want those vehicles using other roads too often, because they will cause more damage and traffic congestion.
In the interim, traffic will be diverted to the Cunapo Southern Main Road that begins in Sangre Grande and the Naparima/Mayaro Road.