JIS News

Reinforcement work on the historic Spanish Town Iron Bridge in St. Catherine, which was in a state of disrepair, is now complete.
The restoration work, valued at some $12 million, was undertaken by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), in collaboration with the Spanish Town Iron Bridge Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), established in 1996 to work towards preserving the bridge.
Work began in January 2009, after the JNHT signed a contract with Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company Limited in October 2008.
Director of Estate Management at the JNHT, Mr. Gavern Tate, told JIS News that the huge gaping hole on the supporting structure of the bridge has been fixed.
Additionally, Mr. Tate said the walkway on the bridge has been restored and is safe for pedestrians. During the repair work, the bridge was closed off to the public and residents of Beacon Street, Thompson Pen and adjoining communities, who would normally use it to get to the main road and the Spanish Town Hospital.
He pointed out that there is still more work to be done on the bridge for it to be “totally restored.” He revealed that project proposals have been written and sent to local and international funding agencies to garner funds to start phase two, which will include restorative work on the cast iron railings and other parts of the structure.
“We want to work on the protection of the foundation of the bridge. We need to pave the bridge itself, so you have a nice surface to walk on, because now it is very rough and we want to re-do all the cast iron works,” he added.
The JNHT is also planning to partner with a number of agencies to preserve the bridge. Among the agencies are the National Works Agency (NWA), the St. Catherine Parish Council and Berger Paints Limited. He noted that the NWA will be responsible for river training activities around the foundation of the bridge, while the St. Catherine Parish Council will be asked to help in whatever way they can. Berger Paints Limited will support the project by providing the paint for the protection of the ironworks.
The bridge has been declared a national monument by the JNHT. It was designed by British Engineer, Mr. Thomas Wilson, cast in 1801 and shipped to Jamaica in prefabricated parts, which were assembled and mounted on its stone abutments in 1802.

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