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PRESS RELEASE – Wheelchair-bound pensioner, Iris Macauldy, had the honour of cutting the ribbon on Tuesday evening to officially declare the Bois d’Orange Bridge open. Like many area residents, business owners and commuters, Iris is delighted at the restoration of the bridge, funded by the World Bank to the cost of $11.2 million.
The previous structure had sustained severe structural damage due to the passage of Hurricane Tomas in 2010. At the time, the bridge catered to an average of 22,000 vehicles per day, and its loss severed a major artery connecting the capital city of Castries and the rest of Saint Lucia to the populous far north of the island.
Construction on the new 18-meter single span, composite steel and concrete structure commenced in October of 2013 and is supported on reinforced concrete piles. The new bridge, though it will initially operate as a two-lane, was built to accommodate four-lane traffic, in keeping with future plans for the northern highway.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony attended the official ceremony. He applauded road users, area residents and the local business community for their patience during the construction period, but went on to further enjoin the forbearance of the public, as his administration presses ahead with more infrastructural development. Dr. Anthony said:
The bad news is that there is more disruption to come. In the months ahead you will probably have to face some more disruption as we seek to expand the highway from the Choc Bridge to Gros Islet.
As you know, the Government of Saint Lucia has received a substantial loan at a very modest interest rate from the Kuwaiti Fund to expand the highway from the Choc Bridge, and that is going to take a couple months of construction. And once again we are going to come to you on bended knees and ask you to forgive us as we seek to improve the flow of traffic between Gros Islet and the city.
To make matters worse, disruption will also be caused by the reconstruction of the Choc Bridge. And if you thought $11.2 million was a lot of money on this bridge, then brace yourselves, because the Choc Bridge will cost even more from what we are seeing of the estimates. So, residents of Gros Islet, it is all in the name of development. I’m sorry, but I have to try and protect you for the future and to resolve once and for all the problems we have had at Choc Bridge over the past few years.
Estimates and designs for the Choc Bridge are presently being processed for review by the funding agency, the World Bank.
The completion of multiple bridges, the expansion of the highway and the conclusion of road reinstatement works at the Barre de L’Isle were among the items included in Dr. Anthony’s 2014-15 Budget Statement, “Building The Pillars For Economic Success, Resilience And Fiscal Stability.”