Work on East End bridges planned for next year
Work to replace East End bridges could start early next year, a public meeting heard last night.
Austin Kenny, a senior structural engineer for the Department of Works and Engineering, told an audience at Penno's Wharf in St George's that the structures were expected to be built simultaneously, over a total of about 30 months.
He was asked when it was thought work would begin.
Mr Kenny replied: “Obviously we're in the planning phase now; there's a lot of hurdles we need to get through before construction starts.
“Optimistically, first quarter next year.”
The meeting was held to collect questions and concerns from the public as part of an environmental impact assessment being carried out by Bermuda Environmental Consulting.
Work has started to remove Longbird Bridge, linking St David's Island to the Causeway and The Main, the largest island in the Bermuda archipelago.
It was closed in 2007 with the twin Bailey bridges built alongside it to accommodate traffic.
Swing Bridge, from St David's to St George's Island, is to remain open until its replacement is ready for use.
In response to a question about the length of time needed to build the structures, Mr Kenny explained: “Longbird Bridge we're estimating 15 months for construction, Swing Bridge might be two-and-a-half years.”
The engineer added: “The intention would be to build them at the same time.”
A man in the audience asked if that took account of limited resources on the island.
Mr Kenny replied: “That might come out in the wash when we do the tendering process, so if a contractor does want to stage it, they certainly are welcome to.
“However, we intend to push them to do them both quite quickly. I'm not going to say we're running out of time on the bridges, but they're continuing to age.”
Questions were asked about who will pay for the bridges and what they will cost.
Although Mr Kenny pointed out that it was not for him to answer, he said: “There will not be a toll, I can confidently say that tolling these bridges will not happen.”
He added: “The Ministry of Finance is looking at financing options.”
Mr Kenny also told the meeting: “It will be competitively tendered. We have an essentially complete set of drawings, planning specifications, every nut and bolt; we're almost there.
“Once that is locked in, then we will put it out to the public for tender.”
Mr Kenny said that, in the “best case”, the tender would be issued in September.
He explained that the construction of the bridges, which each have a design life of 75 years, would be carried out in a number of phases and that certain elements will be built abroad.
Mr Kenny said that the “heavy fabrication” of the steel superstructure for Longbird Bridge will “likely be done overseas”, shipped to the island and lowered into place as one unit.
He added: “So you will drive past one day, there will be no bridge, you come back the next day and there will be a bridge.”
In the case of the structure for Swing Bridge, Mr Kenny said: “It's several pieces, each piece will be brought in independently and then cast together with concrete.”
The Swing Bridge design has a central leaf that lifts vertically, taking six minutes in total to open and close, to allow marine traffic to pass.
Longbird Bridge is to be a fixed structure, but the engineer said that a 12ft air draft would mean boats could “most likely” fit under it.
He added that the temporary bridges have only 5½ ft air draft at high tide.
Annie Glasspool, of Bermuda Environmental Consulting, said notes from the meeting will be added to the company's website on Monday.
• The website address is www.environmentbda.com. To submit questions for consideration as part of the environmental impact assessment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org