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Our waters are for everyone

Dear Sir,

In response to the criticisms  regarding the closure of the Swing Bridge:

Consider: Savings of $160,000 will (won't) be gained from two areas, labour to operate the bridge and costs involved to operate it. But wait, unless the bridge keeper is to be made redundant/unemployed, he/she will be given another job and assigned other work, so there will be no savings at all. Repair of the bridge must continue if the bridge is ever to operate in the future. If not, rust will take its grip and the bridge might not be able to open in the future as is now the fate of the ‘Longbird' bridge, closing off Castle Harbour to all but the smallest boats. An overview of the benefits of cost savings vs detriments due to visitors and locals dismay that Bermuda does not maintain and operate its vital infrastructure strongly points to little to no actual savings coupled with the glaring negative aspect of closure of one of Bermudas most unique and interesting historical (not to mention useful) features.

Consider: Those affected by the closure are numerous. All Bermudian boaters with a tallish vessel, all visiting sailing yachts and local charter boats, such as Ana Luna, which features the bridge as a tourist attraction — one of Bermuda's unique sights on the water which gives access to St George's Harbour and its surrounding bays and waterways.

With regard to emergency services vehicles, the current policy is that the bridge will not open while there is an ambulance or fire truck on the St Georges side of the bridge. (Ana Luna has been turned back several times because of this.) Ana Luna had designed a special morning cruise that featured going through the bridge to St Georges with hopes to bring hundreds of guests this summer to be dropped off in St George's and left to explore, dine etc. The route through the bridge to St George's Harbour gives us a unique tourist product. This was specifically planned so as to use the bridge during non-peak traffic hours as we do realise this is an inconvenience to locals. Our summer route takes us on a circumnavigation of St Georges Island — going out one way and coming back around Fort St Catherine and along North Shore. When bad weather prevents this, the Swing Bridge gives us access to St Georges harbour — a large, protected, historic area. Contrary to the opinion of some, it is not a fuel saving measure for us. We are a sailboat — only using motors when sailing is impossible.

Best scenario: Operate the bridge normally for the summer months and keep things going smoothly for everyone who depends on the bridge. If closure for needed repairs is required, do it in the winter months when bridge use is minimum. Government is bound by its responsibility to maintain and improve its highways and byways. This unique bridge should be preserved and maintained and kept operational! It is the last opening bridge on the Island and is an engineering feat that should be celebrated, commemorated, and used!

Right when Bermuda is turning the corner on improving it's tourist product, it is imperative to avoid this potential ‘Large Avoidable Negative', namely the closure of one of Bermudas most unique and visible national resources. Our waters are an attraction for everyone, locals and tourists alike! As much access as possible to beautiful spots can only enhance everyone's experience of our Island.

NATHAN WORSWICK

Captain, S/V Ana Luna

Photo by Akil Simmons Government has announced that the Swing Bridge from St David's Island to St George's will be closed this coming fiscal year, saving the Government $163,000 in labour repair cost.

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Published March 27, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 26, 2014 at 8:02 pm)

Our waters are for everyone

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