April 16, 2010
Reconstruction begins on Jack’s crushing wall

THE long awaited reconstruction of the Jack’s Wall at Ratho Mill began this week, more than two years after the wall collapsed, taking the life of 67-year-old Patsy Bowman.{{more}}

A statement issued by the Minister of Transport and Works Clayton Burgin on April 12, 2010, said that according to the contract, the construction of the wall will be completed by October 12, 2010.

Work started on Monday, April 12.

According to the statement, Willo Construction Ltd. has been contracted by Alex Jack, the owner of the property, to carry out the construction. The project will be supervised by Ministry of Transport and Works Civil Engineer Raphael Cudjoe, who will ensure that the construction of the wall adheres to engineering designs and specificiations. Cudjoe will aslo provide a record of the construction of the wall in accordance with best engineering practice.

The retaining wall collapsed on September 19, 2008, after days of heavy rainfall, crushing Patsy Bowman, who was driving past in her vehicle. On September 18, 2009, a five member jury at a Coroner’s Inquest ruled Bowman’s cause of death to be manslaughter; the result of negligence on the part of the engineer and the contractors who constructed the wall.

During the inquest, issues such as the structure of the wall and the efficiency of its drainage system were identified as reasons for the wall’s failure.

Dr. Derek Gay, a Lecturer in Geo-technical Engineering at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, was recruited by the Ministry of Transport and Works to assess the wall and provide recommendations on its reconstruction.

Gay visited St. Vincent on September 5, 2009, and in a report dated Febrary 16, 2010, recommended that the width of the base of the new retaining wall be increased to ensure improved stability. He also recommened that the remnants of the existing retaining wall be demolished.

The Chief Engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Works revised the designs for the retaining wall, increasing its base from 14ft to 18ft. The revised designs for the construction of the 30ft high reinforced concrete retaining wall were approved by the Physical Planning Board.

The reconstruction of the wall will also include a drainage system to prevent clogging of the weeper holes by retained soil and a pipe to drain all water accumulating at the base of the wall. “These measures were taken to ensure that the conditions which resulted in the collapse of the rubble wall cannot naturally recur,” the statement said.

A resurfacing of the asphalt pavement will also be done to repair the damage to the road surface.

During the rebuilding of the wall, the barrier currently in place on the north bound lane of the Ratho Mill road on the Windward Highway will remain. (OS)