By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
MINISTER of Public Works Desmond Bannister signed a $2m engineering consultancy contract yesterday with Engineering Technical Services for the Glass Window Bridge in North Eleuthera.
During the contract signing, Mr Bannister told reporters that the construction of a new Glass Window Bridge is critical to Eleuthera.
“The Cabinet approved the recommendation for the award of the contract between the Ministry of Public Works and Engineering Technical Services for a VAT inclusive total of $2,040,840,” he said. “Also approved is a 20 percent contingency amount of $400,000 for any unforeseen or additional services requested.”
The Glass Window Bridge, in North Eleuthera, has been plagued for years with damage, causing blockages especially during hurricanes due to its location between the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, forcing residents to either use Bahamasair or air charters to commute between North and South Eleuthera.
With the Glass Window Bridge being the only link between North and South Eleuthera, Mr Bannister said that a new bridge is critical to life on that island.
“The current bridge is in very poor condition and has a restricted load capacity of only 12 tonnes with single lane traffic only allowed to cross the structure.
“The bridge, in bad weather, is subjected to overtopping and sea surges from the Atlantic wave actions, referred to as ‘raging’ by the local residents. On these occasions, the waves over-top the landmasses and cause damage to both the north and south approach roads to the structure as well as existing utilities. The overtopping creates dangerous driving conditions and thus results in the bridge being closed for use. This has a severe effect of cutting North and South Eleuthera off from vehicular traffic. The replacement of the bridge structure is long overdue,” said Mr Bannister.
The engineering consultants are led by Lambert Knowles and his Bahamian firm, Engineering Technical Services, in partnership with JV with Parsons Inc, Cummins/Cederberg and Ardaman & Associates. According to Mr Bannister, the decision to hire these consultants was based on the fact that they “achieved the highest combined technical and financial score of 84.27”.
According to Mr Bannister, the consultants are expected to undergo four phases including a comprehensive feasibility study that will take four months; phase two, detailed designs over five months; the tender bid process, three months and the actual construction administration over 24 months.
He said, “The works studies are to take into account future demand; financial viability; climate impacts, including projected climate change and other environmental and socio-economic issues relevant to the site.”