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Controversial Bridge Opens Today

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TRAFFIC flow within the vicinity of the newly constructed Bois d’Orange Bridge is expected to return to normal after the official opening later today.

Work on the bridge was commissioned in 2011 after the old bridge sustained severe structural damages due to debris carried by the flood waters of Hurricane Tomas in 2010. Although emergency repair works were performed on the collapsed section of the roadway following the passage of the natural disaster, the government, after thorough assessment, determined that the bridge had to be entirely replaced and as such secured funding from the World Bank as part of the Disaster Relief Fund, to construct the bridge, according to a statement issued by the Government Information service.

Construction commenced in October of 2013.

The new 18-metre, single span, composite steel and concrete structure is supported on reinforced concrete piles. Although it will operate as a two lane roadway, it was built to accommodate four-lane traffic, in keeping with future road infrastructure plans for the northern highway.

Designs for the new bridge were prepared by FDL Consult Inc. and approved by the World Bank. The project was contracted to the joint venture of Construction and Industrial Equipment Ltd (CIE) and Soluciones de Cimentacion of Colombia, after an open tender process and a no objection from the World Bank, at a contract price of EC$11.1 million.

The costing of the bridge has been the subject of a war of words between Infrastructure Minister Phillip Pierre and his predecessor Minister Guy Joseph who claims that the original cost of the bridge when his United Workers Party (UWP) was in power was $3.7 million which included a15 percent contingency fee.

Joseph wants to know whether the government presented new proposals to the World Bank for the financing of the bridge to the ones which he had submitted when the UWP was in power.

The opening ceremony will be held at the site of bridge from 3:30 p.m.

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