Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Allison Jean has responded to concerns about the time frame for the completion of the Bonne Terre Bridge Project.
Jean’s explanation follows questions raised by former Works Minister Guy Joseph who is skeptical about the estimated cost and duration of the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2013.
However, Jean said unforeseen circumstances resulted in a delay and the construction is now scheduled to be completed by May 5, 2013.
Jean added that the cost of the project is quite justified while noting that comparisons between the cost of the Bonne Terre Bridge and the Soufriere Bridge is unreasonable.
During the official unveiling of the project in 2012, the Ministry for Infrastructure gave a detailed presentation on designs, outlays for construction as well as the mode of finance.
Construction of the Bonne Terre Bridge began in September 2012 after a six-month contract of EC$5.5 million was awarded to Integrated Development Contractors.
The new bridge will be a single span, reinforced, concrete bridge, which is designed to be 11.2 meters long, and is meant to accommodate four-lane traffic and have pedestrian sidewalks on either side.
Speaking at the signing-ceremony last year, Minister for Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport, Philip J Pierre, said the new bridge is one of several major interventions which will be undertaken in the financial year.
“We have managed to make substantial savings in engineering and consultancy fees for this project using the Competitive Selector Tender process. All the players involved, including the 20-odd employees are all local, and supervision will be undertaken by staff of the Ministry of Infrastructure.
“Funds for the project will be sourced from an EC$13 million allocation, provided in the 2012/2013 budget. These are the facts, there are no secrets and no refusal to disclose the cost of the project before construction. We are being open and transparent with the use of the taxpayer’s money in the country,” Pierre said at the time.
The new bridge is being constructed as the five culverts on the existing bridge have failed resulting in a noticeable depression on the road surface.
A bypass road is to be constructed parallel to the existing culvert and will allow works on the new bridge to progress uninterrupted. The bypass road will be paved.
According to the government, constructing the bypass road will be a cheaper alternative to commuters rather than using a diversion route.
“There will be no increase in fuel for commuters having to use a longer diversion route; there will be less wear and tear on commuter vehicles; there will be no loss in travel time to commuters and there will be no loss of revenue to businesses located near the bridge site,” a Government Information Service report stated.