The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a $10.6 million contract for the construction of a new Arugam Bay bridge, which will replace the one severely damaged by the tsunami. The centerpiece of the $35 million USAID Sri Lanka Tsunami Reconstruction Program (SLTRP), the new bridge will link Pottuvil, Arugam Bay, and Panama and promote tourism in these coastal villages.
Last Friday the contract was signed with Simplex Company of India. Simplex will construct the bridge under the supervision of CH2M Hill, the U.S. firm implementing the SLTRP. The U.S. Embassy Charge D`Affaires James Moore, USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn, CH2M Hill Chief of Party Teny Mittal, Simplex Director Amitabh Das Mundhra, and Sri Lanka Road Development Authority (RDA) Chairman M.B.S. Fernando joined for the signing.
The two bridge spans will total 185 metres, and provide two 3.7-metre wide vehicle lanes flanked by 1.5-metre wide pedestrian paths. Protective guard railings and lights will line the roadway embankments and the spans, and boats will navigate under the main span with four metres of clearance. The bridge design is a composite of steel girders and concrete panels, rather than an all steel or concrete, which makes for a less expensive, faster-built, and more durable structure.
Despite its proximity to the salt and surf of the sea, the new bridge is expected to last 100 years. The design is often used in the United States, but has not previously been used in Sri Lanka due to difficulty in obtaining appropriate steel girders and other prefabricated materials. The RDA will assess the approach for its value for future projects in Sri Lanka.
?This bridge will link three ethnically diverse communities, and introduce new technology to Sri Lanka to build longer lasting bridges in less time and at less cost,? said Ms. Cohn. ?For the next century, it will symbolize the commitment of the United States to help Sri Lanka rebuild and grow economically after the tsunami. We are especially proud of the community involvement in planning this project, as community support and investiture is the key to its success.?
During community consultations, USAID assured participants that the use of local laborers would be maximized. Simplex officials said their workforce for previous projects in Sri Lanka included about 70 percent local workers. Ensuring a safe workplace and meeting the highest international structural and environmental standards is a prime concern of the project.
The SLTRP also includes upgrading three fishing harbors, rehabilitation or reconstruction of 10 vocational schools, water system improvements, and coastal zone management.