Silchar, Dec 22: The construction works of altertive Barak bridge, parallel to the existing one, now in its 50 years, is progressing fast. The bridge in question whose foundation stone was laid by former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on February 20, 2014 just before the parliamentary elections was necessitated due to the continual technical problems with the old one. There have been several instances when repair works have to be carried on to keep the traffic moving.
According to informed sources, the bridge has undergone repair works many times since its inception. The identified spot in the middle often developed serious cracks on and off, restricting traffic flow. This raised questions in competent circles about its sustaibility. In fact, this is a vital link of Barak Valley that connects Manipur, Dima Hasao district and the airport, besides being a passage for the cluster of villages of Borkhola and Udharbond constituencies of Cachar. It also provides link to NH 37 and NH 54, an access to Mizoram and Imphal. It is also of strategic significance.
The old bridge was constructed by Gammon Company in 1967 which has needed constant expert interventions. Public agitations from time to time have been for repair and improvement as well as for the construction of an altertive bridge. The major problem with the old bridge was in the balance cantilever of 121 metres. Abnormal deflection at the tips of the cantilever arms was noticed. Central cantilever portion was repaired in 1990. After a decade, problem occurred in the central hinge portion of the cantilever that was rectified by providing a 10 metre long timber-bridge over the cantilever hinged joint portion to maintain traffic.
Apart from that, cracks were noticed on the main cantilever arms that were repaired by epoxy grouting and by providing exterl stressing of the cantilever in a small portion at the support point in 1999. All the concrete bearings of the 12 spans were damaged. Deck-slabs in all small spans also got damaged. In view of the deteriorating condition of the bridge, NH division prepared a comprehensive rehabilitation package of Rs.8.54 crore.
However, the Union Ministry of Surface Transport preferred the construction of a new bridge than to go for repair. It sanctioned Rs.59 crore for it. According to Silchar Rural Road Division, the project was sanctioned under NLCPR for 2013-14. The work order was allotted to D2S Infrastructure Private Limited of Guwahati. The time for completion has been set for 30 months. It would be a box girder type superstructure in vigatiol span and slab type superstructure in viaduct portion. The total length of the bridge will be 557.62 metres. It will have both ways footpaths 1.5 metres each.
It is relevant to mention that the construction of the two-lane bridge over river Barak has been delayed by more than 2 years due many issues including land acquisition and matters related to utility shifting process among others. The bridge has been delayed due to various issues related to transfer of land, utility shifting process including underground drinking water and sewage lines, PHE water pipelines and overhead power and telecom lines. The project will be fully completed by March, 2017, according to the Silchar Rural Road Division.