Nov 07, 2015 News
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has invited fresh Expressions of Interest (EoI) from local and foreign consultants in order to complete a feasibility study and design for a new bridge across the Demerara River.
This study, not exceeding 36 weeks, will seek to enhance the old pre-feasibility proposals, which lacked several components and was described by the current administration as having incomplete documentation.
The new EoIs are to be delivered to The Chairman, National Procurement and Tender Administration Board by Tuesday, December 1, 2015.
The present Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) structure crosses the Demerara River four miles (6.4 km) south of Georgetown from Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara (EBD) to Schoonord, West Bank Demerara (WBD).
It is a vital link between the EBD and Georgetown, especially in light of the many housing developments springing up along the WBD prompted by the amount of land and the prices available. However, regular traffic congestion has caused much frustration to road users who sometimes suffer hour-long delays.
The new project framework, as set out by the Ministry in its request for EOI, will examine the three possible sites for the new bridge, namely Houston, EBD to Versailles WBD or New Hope EBD to Laurentia Catherina, WBD or a site close to the existing bridge structure.
In keeping with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s mandate, any proposed bridge design will include a navigational clearance of 100 meters wide with navigational aids, an air draft of 50 meters of vertical clearance, adequate marine collision protection at navigating channels, and an estimated length of 2,250 meters.
A pre-feasibility study was once done by the then Ministry of Public Works, in collaboration with Raymond Charles in 2013. That study examined the cost and the benefit of the three sites.
It also analyzed the other alternative of keeping the old bridge and investing in maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement of the existing two lane floating bridge-which is 37 years old- versus a new four lane floating bridge. It also examined a new four lane fixed structure bridge.
The final report of the pre-feasibility study was released in October 2013 by then Minister of Public Works and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn. According to the report, a new high-level, four-lane fixed- bridge structure at Houston, Greater Georgetown, to Versailles on the West Bank of Demerara, was determined to be the only economically feasible alternative. The document also estimated the cost at some US$264M.
However, the new administration has since blasted the way the pre-feasibility study was conducted by the previous administration. Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has described the study as “ad hoc”, and lacking basic components such as soil tests and tidal flows.
The Ministry is now aiming to conduct a more in-depth study that incorporates those components as well as preliminary designs of proposed bridge structures, approach roads, impact and desirable considerations which were not covered in the 2013 study.
The new study is also expected to include an economic analysis detailing external costs and benefits, a financial analysis that addresses the concerns of how the project will be financed and a detailed Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).
The existing two-lane floating bridge was constructed in 1978 by the UK firm Thomas Storey Engineers Limited. It had an initial life of 20 years. From 1995 to 1998 the bridge underwent major rehabilitation by the Damien Ship Yards of the Netherlands at a cost of US$9M and was given an extended life of 15 years (from 1995).
At present the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) carries out intensive annual maintenance and element replacement activities on the bridge structure.
The DHBC is responsible for the management and collection of tolls. The average annual revenue collection is approximately US$1.9M.
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