AFTER almost five years, the new bridge at Cross Crossing, San Fernando ( Bridge B1/35) was finally opened on Monday morning.
Construction began in 2016 during phase two of the Works and Transport Ministry’s Bridges and Landslip Programme.
The National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) had said it would be completed by October 2019.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the bridge was “long overdue,” adding that he is happy it can now be used.
“It did take a couple of months over the anticipated period, but a lot of that had to do with the inclement weather, being an active roadway, one, and two, being a major watercourse in the San Fernando area.
“There were some challenges as we went along. But I want to congratulate the contractor, who really stuck to the task, despite challenges, to be able to deliver the bridge not only to ensure we did not go over the budget, but to achieve a saving of at least $1.5 million.”
He said the project cost a total of $22.7 million, and the rest of the money would be used to clean rivers in San Fernando.
“Whenever we get this kind of saving on a project, we try to utilise it on other works in the community.”
He said while some may feel the opening of the bridge only happened because it is an election year, he is assuring the public this is untrue. Had that been the case, he said, construction would not have started in 2016.
“When you start a project like this, it first has to go into the design stage. After the design stage, then it goes into a tender process, then it goes into construction.
"So if we anticipated 2016 for an election in 2020, clearly you can’t say this is an election process.
“Around election time, every good thing they see, they say (it) is (for the) election. I am happy for that, it means it is something good. Because if is something bad they would never bring the word ‘election’ into it.”
He said he is never satisfied when projects take longer than promised to complete, but people have to understand that some things are “beyond the control of the contractor and stakeholders.
“Remember the Point Fortin to San Fernando highway that the previous government promised they were going to finish in three years? That’s going on almost nine years now. So there are challenges (that come) with construction. But you just have to deal with it as you go along.”
San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello said he had been receiving several calls and messages over the past few months about the opening of the bridge. He, too, said he is happy it is complete and congratulated the team.
“People who use this area are excited about it because this is a main artery to the city of San Fernando…This will make a huge difference.
"I would like to thank the minister for his vision and foresight and the contractors for finishing – almost on time, but we could work with this.”