Cabinet is set to award a contract for an eight to ten week project to strengthen the Swing Bridge and remove the weight restriction currently in effect.

Responding to Parliamentary Questions fielded by Opposition MP Derrick Burgess, Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier said the final feasibility study on “the bridge replacement is still being developed”. But “there are several works which must take place” beforehand.

The first project involves strengthening the bridge and the removal of the current weight restriction on the “swing portion” of the bridge.

Now that the “tender process has taken place” Mr Cannonier said: “Once awarded by Cabinet, these works are set to take eight to ten week to implement. While the bridge will remain single lane, all weight restrictions will be removed.”

Mr Burgess wanted to know when the repairs would be completed and when the east end bridge will be fully operational.

The Minister told MPs on Friday that another project will begin with the project set to get underway.

“Simultaneously in development is the bypass bridge slated to be erected. Over the former Severn Bridge site at Stokes Point Road,” Mr Cannonier said.

“Engineering is in process to evaluate the existing substructures with the intent to erect a new Bailey bridge system on top. This would restore two way traffic in and out of St George via separate one way paths.

“With works for this project already underway and pending finding from engineering surveys, the target is to have the bypass route completed before the end of the year.”

The Minister noted that “initial plans were to replace only the swing portion of the bridge (the section most fatugued) to restore full use by America’s Cup and thereafter replace the decks of the larger approach spans in subsequent years”.

But he said: “With now greater confidence in the interim works solution addressing acute safety concerns, the Ministry is revising feasibility options to ensure opportunities to enhance the bridge are not overlooked in the interest of simply fixing the problems quickly.

“Therefore several additional options are to be considered, including carrying out the current plan but with the change of performing the works all at once to save on cost and inconvenience to the public, and total reconstruction of the bridge that may allow for the passage of larger marine traffic such as fast ferries,” said the Minister.

He concluded: “As these options will take a bit more time to investigate, we unfortunately don’t have the final answer right now, but we hope to have it in a matter of weeks once consulting bridge engineers examine the options and provide pricing and schedules for Cabinet to consider.”

By Ceola Wilson