Silchar: The bridge on river Barak, also known as Sadarghat bridge, has become almost rickety in its 52 year of construction. The bridge is the vital link that connects this valley with Dima Hasao district, airport, Manipur and the villages of Cachar under Borkhola and Udharbond constituencies in the northern side of the Silchar town. It also provides link to NH 37 and NH 54, an access to Mizoram and Imphal. It is also of strategic significance. Ever since its completion, the bridge has been in chronic mechanical and technical snags and the traffic movement has to be restricted frequently.
The PWD (NH) division has issued a notification effective from today about the restricted plying of light vehicles only, considering the wobbling condition of the bridge. 24x7 vigilance by the staff led by an officer and assisted by security personnel is being maintained, pointed out Pinak Pani Nath, executive engineer. He added to say some necessary repair works have been taken up at the belly of the bridge to keep the skeleton traffic moving. The district administration of Cachar and his own NH wing are anxious to see that the new bridge being constructed parallel to the existing bridge is thrown open to traffic.
According to a source in the PWD (NH) division here, the bridge has undergone repair works many times since its inception. The identified spot in the middle often developed serious cracks, restricting traffic flow. This raised questions in competent circles about its sustainability. 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 alternative 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 external 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. But, 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. The new bridge constructed by PWD (Rural division) is almost complete and its opening for thorough traffic is now awaited which might take a month more. Approach on both sides of the bridge has been taken up on war-footing.