Harbour Bridge repairs completed on schedule

Maintenance of the Demerara Harbour Bridge, which saw the replacement of a pontoon, was completed unhindered and on time, a press release from the corporation has said.

It stated that a final system check was made at 1 pm yesterday, which confirmed that replacement of the pontoon that was supporting the critical western section of the retractor span was successful.

The statement said the work, which was carried out by the engineers and staff of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) and Industrial Fabrications Inc (InFab) was completed within the projected timeframe and there were no disruptions to either marine or road traffic outside of the planned six-hour closure on Saturday.

DHBC General Manager Rawlston Adams was quoted as saying, “…The successful execution of the project was a result of careful planning over several months and good coordination among various departments and contractor InFab.”

The statement explained that the systems from the existing pontoon had to be removed and reinstalled on the new pontoon for retractions to resume on schedule and it was important that the project was completed over the weekend so that the normal bridge operations could have resumed yesterday without there being any hindrance to commercial, educational and other activities.

At an earlier press conference some time ago, Adams had explained that the pontoon had not been changed in 18 years and as such there was a need to do so immediately.

According to him, the project to change the pontoon came up to some $109 million and included the construction of two pontoons, another that will be changed at a later date, and also the fabrication of extra hydraulic pipes.

Adams had said planning for the project started since 2014 and $93 million were spent on fabricating two large pontoons, which was done by InFab. He had explained that InFab was hired because it was the original company, 18 years ago, under the former name IEL, that was responsible for the installation of the winches, under the Bridges Rehabilitation Programme. “…And so management thought it wise to rehire InFab at a cost of just about $16 million,” Adams had said.

Meanwhile the second pontoon will be changed later in the year. Adams had explained that the company had initially considered doing both at the same time but it would have meant closing to bridge to vehicular traffic for a longer period.

He had been asked why the DHBC was expending so much to repair the bridge when there is the possibility of a new bridge over the Demerara on the horizon. Adams had responded, “Why not? If something goes wrong with this one? This is what we have now. The pontoons need to be changed. I cannot and management cannot operate in that manner. We have to invest and continue investing in this one. There are no other alternative to cross the river.”

He added that while $100 million might seem like a lot of money, it eventually echoes into saving billions by having the bridge in operation. “…But imagine not having it, you will lose billions,” he had said.

The bridge was to marine traffic from Friday and vehicular traffic for six hours on Saturday. The bridge is expected to be retracted today to allow for the flow of marine traffic again.

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