Public Works Commissioner Darryl Small warned residents Monday that they should respect the safety warnings and restrictions on the bridge that gives access to the Estate Scott Free-Upper John Dunkoe area to prevent the bridge from failing with catastrophic results before an alternative access road can be built.
The bridge was declared seriously deficient and in dire need of replacement seven week ago, Smalls said in a news release issued Monday by Government House.
The Department of Public Works placed Jersey Barriers – a modular concrete or plastic type of barrier used to separate traffic – nine feet apart to restrict access and posted a four-ton weight limit at the entrance to the bridge to prohibit large trucks or heavy equipment from entry. Entry is allowed only for smaller vehicles.
According to Smalls, the department has monitored the bridge on a weekly basis and found that the barriers are being tampered with and moved regularly.
"It is critical that these barriers remain in place and that residents obey all posted restrictions," Smalls said in Monday’s announcement.
Failure to obey the restrictions could result in the total failure and collapse of the bridge, according to the commissioner.
Smalls said the department recognizes that the bridge is the only access for the residents that live in this area and said the department is hurrying the process to provide temporary alternative access as soon as possible in order to close the bridge immediately.
An emergency project to construct a temporary access road is expected to begin by the end of this month, Smalls said, and is expected to be completed within 30 days thereafter. Upon completion of the temporary access road, the bridge will be permanently closed.
The existing bridge will be demolished and a permanent access constructed as part of Phase I of the Scott Free Road project. Construction of the new roadway is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to the commissioner.
Any questions or concerns can be directed to Wystan Benjamin, Highway Program manager, at 1-340-776-4844.