MINISTER of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis (left) explains to Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, and Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Kwasi Thompson some of the work being carried on Fishing Hole Bridge. Photo: Lisa Davis/BIS
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
WORK on the Fishing Hole causeway bridge in Grand Bahama has resumed and officials expect it to be completed before the hurricane season starts.
The $6.5 million bridge - which was almost completed last year - was significantly damaged by tidal surge during Hurricane Dorian last September, causing delay and setback with the project.
Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis, along with Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson, and Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, MP for West Grand Bahama, met with the contractor on Tuesday to view the progress of work.
According to Mr Lewis, the bridge causeway will be more resilient than the former asphalt surface that was initially laid.
“We promised to build back better and stronger,” he said, adding that concrete instead of asphalt is being used on the approach ramp on the eastern side.
“The western side has been completed and is now curing. The concrete replaces the asphalt that was there pre-Dorian; we don’t dare say this is something that could withstand any force of nature, but we can guarantee it is stronger and more resilient.”
Mr Lewis is confident that the contractor, ABC Construction, would meet the completion timeline for the project.
Mrs Parker-Edgecombe was very pleased with the progress of the work.
“As you are aware this road has been one of contention for many years. The fact that we are building back better and stronger will attest to our resiliency in moving forward with regards to hurricanes. So, to hear we are going to be completed very soon and, to know that the only connection point out of West GB into East GB is going to be completed, it is good news for us and we can’t wait for it to be finished,” she said.
Mr Turnquest said the completion of the bridge will also serve as “important infrastructure” for commerce on the island, and particularly West Grand Bahama.
“We are very happy to arrive at this stage where we are actually seeing concrete go down on this bridge, which is a very important piece of infrastructure, not only for protecting lives and having access to emergency service in Freeport but also for commerce to allow people to go back and forth to the west unimpeded.”
He added: “It is very important…as we are going to have to depend more upon our domestic economy than we are to our guests.”
Mr Turnquest believes that “having access to residents from the eastern side to the western side is going to help overall in being able to support one another as we work our way through this (COVID-19) crisis.”
The bridge will serve as the primary artery into Freeport, while the service road below is going to remain in place for heavy loads, he explained.
“We don’t want to over stress the bridge although it is designed and can take the load. We will have the heavy trucks go down on the service road, and it will also serve as an emergency road for maintenance to be done,” Mr Turnquest said.
Mr Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama, also noted that road works are also underway in eastern Grand Bahama, where paving is being carried out from McLeans Town to High Rock.
“We are pleased about that. It just demonstrates that while progress has been slower than people would want, the fact is these are technical issues we want to make sure we do it right and spend the money and get the best value for the Bahamian people. We appreciate the patience as we continue to improve upon our infrastructure and deliver services that GB needs,” he said.