Engineers from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure have deemed the fifty-year-old Wismar-Mackenzie Bridge to be structurally sound, following an inspection visit last month.
The engineers’ inspection of the bridge had been requested following a meeting of Linden residents with Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Patterson-Yearwood. The matter had been raised following the posting of photographs of what appeared to be rust underneath the bridge on social media by Councillor Lennox Gasper.
According to the engineers, the bridge is structurally sound, and the supports of the bridge that are submerged in the water are in good shape. However, the supports above the water have rust on them. They stated that the rust on the bridge can be attributed to the bauxite dust that blows over from the Bosai Minerals Inc operation that’s located a short distance away from the bridge, and advised that proper maintenance below the bridge is needed. The engineers suggested that power hose washing or sandblasting of the rusted parts below the bridge will give it a more refined look.
However, the heavy amount of traffic utilising the bridge was noted as a potential problem. The engineers noted that this underscores the need for another bridge or another lane. The team has promised to compile a comprehensive report on the bridge, and to inspect it every three months. After six months, they’ll be able to say whether the bridge is sinking or moving.
Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland was present at the time of the inspection and told Stabroek News that he was pleased with the minister’s quick response, considering the town’s worry and fear about the shape of the bridge.
The mayor added, “This will also bring to light the fact that the two billion dollars set aside for a new bridge in Linden, according to our understanding, it may not be sufficient to complete a new structure in the mining town and we’re asking the government to source the additional funding so that we can get a new bridge in Linden. It’s about time and we deserve some comfort.”
When asked for his view, Councillor Gasper responded that in light of all that the engineers had to say with respect to the soundness of the structure, he still questions the life span since the bridge was constructed in 1967, and wonders how much longer the bridge can last, considering what it was constructed for fifty years ago.
“Linden needs a new bridge and if there are talks about a road from Linden to Lethem, then we cannot complete the talk if we don’t talk about a new bridge and the Linden Soesdyke Highway,” Gasper opined.