JIS News

Regular traffic flow has returned to Portland with the opening of the rail bridge in St. Margaret’s Bay on Saturday (July 30). The bridge, which was rehabilitated at a cost of $26 million, is being used as an alternative to the Rio Grande overpass, which was taken out of service due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Dennis.
The opening of the bridge followed two weeks of repair work undertaken by NAKASH Construction Company and Millers Electrical and Construction Company, during which the structure was modified with part of a bailey bridge added to allow single lane traffic.
Only vehicles with a maximum weight of 12 tonnes are allowed to use the bridge and the traffic flow will be regulated by traffic lights.
The decision to re-engage the rail bridge, which has been out of use since it was damaged during Hurricane Allen in 1980, was made on the instruction of Prime Minister P. J. Patterson, who, after a tour of hurricane-affected areas in Portland, instructed the National Works Agency (NWA) to ensure that the dislocation caused by the disengagement of the Rio Grande bridge was addressed as early as possible.
In declaring the bridge open, Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill praised the contractors, the NWA and all the other persons, who contributed to making the project a successful one.
He asserted that the use of the bridge was intended to be a short-term measure, as a new facility would be constructed at the same location, as part of the Northern Coastal Highway project.
He noted that the work to repair the bridge had brought with it “challenges, excitement and a change in lifestyle for the people of the area”, but said the project had demonstrated that “positive development could be derived from adverse situations.”
The Transport and Works Minister thanked the people of Portland for the patience they had displayed despite the inconvenience they suffered while the bridge was being repaired and appealed for their continued support as the Ministry pursued other projects aimed at improving the country’s road network.