September 2, 2014
Caratal bridge contract signed, work to commence end of month

Construction on this country’s second longest clear span bridge is expected to begin at the end of September.

The Ministry of Transport and Works and Bailey Contractors signed a contract for works to be carried out on the Caratal bridge, which was damaged {{more}}in the floods of December 24.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, chief engineer, Brent Bailey revealed the designs for the new bridge.

“One the primary aims is to improve the capacity of our road’s infrastructure, to provide resilience, primarily to provide resilience to the impacts of climate change,” Bailey said.

“We have to increase the hydraulic capacity of the bridge which means we have to increase the ability of the bridge to transmit larger volumes of water. Also we have to reduce the risk of blockage, of debris, trees, sediments and so forth by the bridge and ensure the safe movement of vehicular traffic and again provide protection to the river embankment.”

In order to meet these requirements, the design has increased the total span of the bridge with an increase in size and height of the bridge abutments.

Beams will also be put in place so that in the event that there is scouring of the river banks, the structure will remain intact.

The new bridge will also give a total clearance of 11 feet, which will essentially triple the total volume of water that can pass underneath the bridge, Bailey said.

Julian Francis, Minister of Transport and Works noted that the Caratal bridge is a vital link between the northern and southern parts of the island on the Windward side.

Francis expressed satisfaction in the design for the new bridge especially since it will be raised significantly as a precaution from being destroyed in possible future floods.

Additionally, he indicated that once the project is started, a temporary bridge which was placed in the area by the Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority will be used as a bypass.

“BRAGSA had the foresight to put in a temporary bridge at Caratal. Despite some criticism of it, it has worked well for eight months. There has not been any threat of it being knocked out by waters that have flowed under it since then and it is going to be used as a bypass while we are building this, because there was supposed to have been a bailey bridge there, but as you see the design for the new bridge has come faster than the replacement bailey bridge,” Francis said.

In a tendering process, which consisted of three companies, Bailey Contractors had the lowest bid; coming in at approximately $247,000 below the other bids.

They were subsequently awarded the contract, which is estimated to cost EC$2,999,752.86

Bailey Contractors’ representative, George Bailey, thanked the Government for awarding the company with the contract and assured efficiency for the duration of the eight month contract.

“We hope to do a good job and we don’t anticipate much difficulty, but as we go along, we always find little discrepancies so we ask the public to be lenient because finally you’ll have a workable bridge that could sustain something like the floods of 2013,” Bailey said.

The project is being financed by the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) through an $8 million credit facility that was established following the December floods.(BK)