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Bridge fix will be worth closure, say town leaders

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Shutting down the St George's Swing Bridge for a year might annoy some mariners — but maintaining the bridge is worth the inconvenience, according to the Old Town's mayor Garth Rothwell.

Public Works plans to save $163,000 in labour costs by closing the bridge from April 1. It will also undergo repairs during its down time.

Mr Rothwell told The Royal Gazette that a major concern had been that the Swing Bridge would one day end up stuck open during an emergency in St George's.

“The probability of this occurring with the ambulance unable to reach someone increases significantly if the opening and closing mechanism, in particular, is in need of maintenance,” he said.

“For this reason alone, I would support keeping the bridge closed until this maintenance is undertaken and the reliability of the bridge restored. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest a reliability study be undertaken as part of this maintenance work to ensure that the design and condition of this bridge is consistent with the vital service it provides to St George's.”

He added: “In regard to marine traffic, the other bridge already restricts the size of boat able to access Castle Harbour from St George's Harbour and the North Shore. However, it will mean any large motor boat and yachts coming from the west to St George's will have to travel around St George's island and enter via the Town Cut.

“This is disappointing as the Corporation is trying to encourage more local boats to visit St George's in the summer — but probably will not have a great effect as Bermudians have been on the water for hundreds of years and a trip around Fort St Catherine's to St George's is unlikely to deter them. Maintaining access to and from St George's is the greater priority.”

St George's North MP Kenneth Bascome confirmed that the east end's link across Ferry Reach hadn't been operating properly in the wake of a 2012 storm.

“It's a very unfortunate occurrence,” Mr Bascome said. “However, you will be aware it was struck by lightning approximately two years ago, and there have been issues with opening and closing. It got stuck open about a month ago. If you live in St George's, that can be irritating.

“Closing it could be an irritation to the boating public but overall it's the way forward. The bridge needs to have a thorough maintenance and this will give Government the opportunity to carry it out. I'm not even looking at the economic savings. As a person living in the east end, we have to contend with the ups and downs of the Causeway. If the Swing Bridge gets stuck, we're stuck.”

He added: “Most of those boats go around, anyhow. I don't think most come up through Ferry Reach.”

St George's Swing Bridge will be closed this coming fiscal year, to undergo maintenance and to allow for cost savings.
(Photo by Akil Simmons) St George's Swing Bridge will be closed this coming fiscal year, to undergo maintenance and to allow for cost savings.

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Published March 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 12:44 am)

Bridge fix will be worth closure, say town leaders

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