After hours spent trying to repair damages to the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB), commuters and traffic will soon return to normal as Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has announced that repairs are complete.
In a statement on his social media account on Wednesday, Patterson revealed that staff of the DHB have completed the realignment of the bridge, which went down after being struck by a barge on Monday.
He also announced that by today, the bridge will be opened completely to all traffic. This comes after the bridge was opened to light traffic on Tuesday, while persons living on West Bank Demerara (WBD) were forced to use water taxis to commute.
On Monday, the very day that school reopened, a barge and tug slammed into the southern side of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. The impact shifted the spans and resulted in serious damage to a car that was caught in between two separated plates.
Emergency actions were deployed. Engineers had also noticed that structure was shifted from its aligned position between the two damaged spans.
As the morning wore on, there was confusion as passengers fainted while waiting to board speedboats at the Stabroek Stelling. While some commuters complained about the inordinate time it took to board, others complained about the stagnant location and the toxic air.
Floating at 1.25 miles, the Demerara Harbour Bridge has the distinction of being the longest floating bridge in the world. It is a strategic link between the eastern and western banks of the Demerara River that facilitates the daily movement of a large numbers of vehicles, people and cargo.
The structure was built in the 1970s, but was opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting only 10 years. As such, there have been concerted efforts by both the previous and current administration to build a new bridge, though the latest efforts have been marred by procurement controversies.
In 2017, a feasibility study and design for a new Demerara River Bridge was done by Dutch company LievenseCSO. The project team had included officials from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation and Transport and Harbours Department.
That the feasibility study had determined the proposed location of Houston-Versailles as the most ideal. A low-level bridge with a movable part and three-lanes was recommended for construction.
However, another study had been completed back in 2013, when the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation had collaborated with the then Public Works Ministry to carry out a pre-feasibility analysis. That study had concluded that a ‘fixed, high level’ bridge was the best option to pursue, rather than the retractable model.