Houston location being considered for new 3-lane Demerara River bridge

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-Land acquisitions will have to be done for the greater good- Patterson

The old Demerara Harbour Bridge which opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting only 10 years, has been floating for 39 years

The preliminary findings for the first phase of the feasibility study for a new Demerara River bridge have indicated that a three-lane design is up for deliberation since it would ease traffic flow in the area.

Moreover, it was outlined that the Houston to Versailles route is being considered for the construction of the new bridge.

Should Houston be chosen as the area where the new bridge will be located, it would mean that properties in the way might have to be acquired by Government, a reality that Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson says is inevitable.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson addressing the gathering at the stakeholder consultation for the feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge

According to Patterson “the new bridge would lead to some land acquisition, but consultations will be made…at some point during the project there will have to be some land acquisition should we proceed with whichever option there is. It’s unfortunate, but it is something that we have to do for the greater good. We will have consultation with those persons whose homes or property will be affected.”

Last November, the government had announced that Lievense CSO will conduct the feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge.

On Wednesday, Traffic Expert, Lievense CSO, Jacqueline Mouws  explained that though a two-lane option would be cheaper, it would result in  similar traffic congestion  currently faced with the existing bridge. If one of the lane becomes inoperable then there will be a heavy buildup of traffic in the area, Mouws stated.

Traffic Expert, Lievense CSO, Jacqueline Mouws making her presentation on the new Demerara River Bridge feasibility study

The Traffic expert, speaking at a consultation on the feasibility study at the Pegasus hotel, further explained that with a four-lane bridge, there would be two lanes in different directions which would provide more capacity. However, the amount of traffic that would travel with the four-lane structure would be too much for the road network, which would also lead to traffic snags.

Therefore, “on a three-lane bridge you would have the option to do the double lane opening that you do now, but still make it possible for people to do the counter flow so you would have the same system as now, you would have a double lane opening. It’s just that because you don’t have to stop the traffic on the other side they can still drive over in the morning from the East Bank to the West Bank and  you wouldn’t get the block up that you have now at the entrance of the bridge,” Mouws explained.

The estimated traffic flow on the three-lane bridge include two lanes going from West Bank Demerara (WBD) to East Bank Demerara (EBD) in the morning and one lane going from EBD to WBD. In the evening there will be two lanes going from EBD to WBD and one lane going back from WBD to EBD.

In the event of emergencies, there would still be more capacity to facilitate the traffic flow, Mouws added.

Additionally, Mouws highlighted that during the study it was also discovered that traffic on the bridge has increased significantly especially since the economy is growing. Though this is a good thing, she said, it would require another road network.

During the day, the route where the current bridge is located is plagued with heavy traffic therefore the Houston to Versailles route is also under consideration for the construction of the new bridge, she added.

If we are calculating the traffic time between putting the bridge at Houston and the bridge at Peter’s Hall, and because of the amount of people moving up and down, it doesn’t significantly differ the travel time if we put the bridge more north or if we keep it at its current location. It’s balanced according to the amount of people using the bridge at a certain area,” the traffic expert underlined.

In 2013, the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) in collaboration with the Central Transport Planning Unit of the then Ministry of Public Works conducted a pre-feasibility. That study concluded that a fixed high-level bridge was the best option to pursue.

The study which commenced on January 15 also looked at whether the bridge should be a floating, fixed, low- level or fixed high-level bridge.

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