The largest four-lane bridge in Jamaica is to be constructed over the Rio Minho in Clarendon as part of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP).
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on February 10, Managing Director of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), Ivan Anderson, explained that the bridge will be much wider than the existing bridge, which is a two-lane thoroughfare.
He said that preparatory work for the construction of the bridge, which involves piling (heavy stakes or posts installed to support the foundation of a superstructure), is now under way at the site.
“The bridge sits on 30-foot long piles which are driven all the way down into bedrock under the ground. So, that’s the major activity taking place now… we are drilling for the piles,” Mr. Anderson explained.
He added that the steel cages are now sitting on the ground, “so once the drilling is completed, the steel cages will be inserted and concrete will be poured”.
The Managing Director said that at almost 150 metres (450 feet) wide, the bridge will be very imposing.
He pointed out that over the years, the Rio Minho has had significant flood events, so the bridge is designed for a hundred-year storm, meaning that for a hundred-year event, the bridge should not be overtopped.
Mr. Anderson explained that design of the bridge has taken previous experiences into consideration, such as in 1986 when the approaches to the existing bridge collapsed as the earth embankment on the western side was washed away.
“Taking that into account, we’ve reviewed the design, so our new bridge is now 150m wide, so it is much wider than the existing bridge and is capable of allowing flows from a storm with a return period of greater than a hundred years, so we don’t expect to have any similar issues again,” he said.
Mr. Anderson added that the drainage in the area is expected to be significantly improved.
Two additional bridges are being built under the project, one of which will be done over the Milk River and the other over the St. Anne’s Gully.
Thirteen other structures, including underpasses, field connectors and an overpass are being constructed.
The work is being done on the May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000, which is currently under construction. NROCC is responsible for the establishment, development, financing, operation and maintenance of Jamaica’s tolled highways.