Spanish Wells Bridge collapse
By EARYEL BOWLEG
THE bridge connecting Spanish Wells and Russell Island collapsed yesterday affecting water supply and travel between the two islands.
Pictures and video on social media showed a heavy-duty truck and a golf cart on the collapsed bridge. The island’s chief counselor, Robert Roberts, told The Tribune he got the call about the incident at 1.10pm.
He said several people were in the truck that was crossing the bridge. No one was injured during the ordeal, he said.
“Nobody got injured and we managed to get the truck off of the bridge and that’s about where we are right now. Trying to put together a plan for temporary water and passage back and forth to Spanish Wells and Russell Island,” he said.
In a statement, Senator Clay Sweeting reported the water main that was attached to the bridge that serviced the community on Russell Island has also been destroyed, leaving residents without potable water.
“It would also be remiss of me if I didn’t note the red water that is quite evident in the photo which poses another issue for the residents in North Eleuthera,” according to the statement.
“There is no way now for vehicular traffic to traverse from Spanish Wells, the commercial and business centre, and Russell Island which is largely residential.
“I would recommend that the government work with haste to replace the bridge and ensure that the residents of this community once again have safe potable water.”
Mr Russell drew attention to the fact that the dump where garbage for both islands is disposed is on Russell Island as well.
Works Minister Desmond Bannister explained to The Tribune his ministry is in the process of building a new bridge as the government signed a contract in July 2019 for the installation. He said the current bridge was only supposed to be there for a few more weeks.
“The new bridge is a kit bridge that only needs to be installed. The entire bridge is in Spanish Wells in nine containers,” he told The Tribune.
“The works were delayed by losses incurred to the contractor’s equipment during Hurricane Dorian. The plan has always been to use a barge to transport residents from one side to the next whilst the old bridge is being dismantled and the new one erected.”
Mr Bannister also stressed that officials have warned residents that heavy-duty vehicles should not cross the bridge.
“We have been to Spanish Wells on several occasions, and residents are aware that no heavy vehicles such as the concrete truck that apparently caused the collapse should be on the bridge,” Mr Bannister said.
However, Mr Roberts pointed out that the power company located on Russell Island uses heavy equipment and cannot provide service without it. Not to mention, the garbage cannot be picked up without it either. Mr Roberts revealed the truck on the bridge was from Island Block and Concrete.
According to Mr Roberts, the bridge was installed in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew and was intended to be temporary and had been a concern for the community and the district council for the past eight years.
He added: “This community has continued to grow as fast as any I know in the Bahamas. Now, we had outgrown that bridge and besides that the fact that the bridge had some wear and tear on it. Saltwater had affected a good portion of it. You know that type of stuff and everybody was aware of it.
“We knew the bridge was weak. We were hoping of course it would’ve been installed prior to anything happening but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. This is nothing new.”
With a weekend lockdown coming, Mr Roberts hopes water service will be restored by today or tomorrow.