Gov’t must speed up North Windward Bailey Bridges Construction

By Admin. Updated 7:57 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, 2022, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

The river crossing at Overland was impassable on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Photo: Keisha Ballantyne

Discussion: There was a time when the absence of a bridge over the Rabacca Dry River prevented access to and from communities beyond the river, whenever it rained heavily.

The building of the Rabacca bridge and the Lady Jane bridge next to it solved the problem, ensuring safe passage in times of heavy rains.

Now, in 2022, residents of North Windward live in uncertainty regarding their commute every time it rains because at least three new challenges have emerged further north of the Rabacca Dry River.

The issue of people being stranded by impassable roads due to flooding gained started gaining prominence over the last decade or so.

The inconvenience caused to motorists in recent times has led some to call for the construction of bridges in the areas, especially at Noel and Savannah Gutter.

When the Windward Highway was constructed, the areas at Savannah Gutter, Overland, and Noel in Sandy Bay had small waterways that met sections of the main road.

The areas were not known for regular heavy flows of water and were allowed to run on lowered, horizontal surface drains across the roads.

In late February 2022, parliamentary representative for North Windward and Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel said on Bailey bridges will be erected at river crossings in Overland, Noel and London by August 2022.

In late February 2022, Minister Daniel said the Bailey bridges are expected to address the issue of stranded commuters when these areas of the roads are flooded.

Mr. Daniel also spoke about planning being down for the construction of permanent bridges in the affected areas through a Caribbean Development Bank-CDB consultancy project.

In recent times, and with the ever present threat of fast moving volcanic debris cascading down the slopes of the La Soufrière mountains, the need for urgent action on the promised Bailey bridges has been amplified.

Now, the government has been doing a lot of budgeted work on North Windward. Houses are still being constructed for people who lost their homes due to the 2021 La Soufrière volcanic eruptions, sea defenses are being constructed to fight rapid coastal erosion in the area, some families are still being looked after and public health, security and social services are back on steam and being maintained by the government.

Additionally, while there are three main river crossings of concern to motorists and residents in North Windward, there are over 21 river-type crossings in the area they may need remedial work or bridges.

All of these infrastructural needs in the volcanic Red Zone must be met by the government, while they also address the infrastructural, social and economic needs of the rest of the country.

Another important point is that some of the flood-prone areas in question would likely need some added emphasis on their designing to ensure proper construction happens.

Be that as it may, the rest of the country is often on edge when the people of North Windward cannot leave the area or return home due to these impassable river crossings when there is heavy rain.

August is too far away. The planning and the engineering to install the Bailey bridges in the flood-prone areas should be done sooner to bring comfort to the people of North Windward and ensure their safety.

This should be done even if it means putting a few other projects on hold, temporarily, and maneuvering resources to get the job done.

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