Plans are advanced for the start of work on the Rio Grande Bridge construction project in Portland within the next four months.
The new structure will replace the rail bridge, which has been in use since 2005. The project will be funded jointly by the Governments of Jamaica and China under the Jamaica Road Development Infrastructure Programme.
Communications Manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, addressing a community meeting held yesterday (Aug. 4) at the St. Margaret’s Bay All-age School in Portland, to sensitize residents about the Rio Grande Bridge construction project.
Communications Manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, addressing a community meeting on Aug. 4 at the St. Margaret’s Bay All-Age School in Portland, said the project was expected to last for 20 months and would include the construction of a 213 – metre two-lane bridge, with a design life of 75 years.
A 1.2-metres concrete walkway will also be constructed to facilitate pedestrians and non-motorised traffic.
Mr. Shaw stated that the plan is to deviate from the route now being used by residents and visitors to the parish. “A part of our mandate is to create safe and reliable roadways, and we believe the way we are going will add to this element of safety,” he said
Assuring the citizens that all the necessary plans will be put in place to mitigate any negative impact during the erection of the structure, Mr. Shaw said that “all the key stakeholders will meet with you, to ensure that all your concerns are adequately addressed.”
Mayor of Port Antonio, Councillor Floyd Patterson, welcomed the construction plans and called on the residents to cooperate with the authorities during the process.
“Let us work together as a team, and have constant communication and dialogue. Let us cooperate to make this vision a reality, as in the long run, everyone will benefit,” he added.
The residents, in the meantime, raised questions about employment for citizens of the community under the project; the possibility of disruptions to the Rio Grande Rafting service; noise pollution; and disruption of the free flow of traffic during the construction process.
The Rio Grande Bridge links Port Antonio to the rest of Eastern Portland and is the main access route between the parish and a number of the island’s commercial towns such as Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay.
The structure was partially destroyed by Hurricane Dennis in July 2005, and was rendered unsafe for vehicular traffic. The old railway bridge was modified to accommodate single lane traffic.