Grossmond Bridge ‘a disaster waiting to happen’
Residents say 114-year-old structure on the brink of collapse
Residents in the communities of Wilton, Braes River, Balaclava, and surrounding districts have expressed concerns about the integrity of the 114-year-old Grossmond Bridge in St Elizabeth, constructed in 1909, and are fearful that it could collapse...
Residents in the communities of Wilton, Braes River, Balaclava, and surrounding districts have expressed concerns about the integrity of the 114-year-old Grossmond Bridge in St Elizabeth, constructed in 1909, and are fearful that it could collapse at any time.
Richard Samuels, a resident of the Braes River community for more than 50 years, told The Gleaner that the bridge has deteriorated rapidly and needs immediate attention.
“Hardly any repair has been done on the bridge since it was constructed; cracks have developed all over, and it now vibrates when the smallest vehicle passes over it,” Samuels said.
He pointed to a section on the surface that has been eroded to the point where the water may be seen flowing beneath, as evidence that the structure is compromised.
Christopher Wright, who lives near the bridge, said a hole on the surface was filled in by workmen, but because of the constant traffic it has reopened, and is now wider.
Fifty-eight year-old Liston Williams, who has been using the bridge since his childhood, says he is particularly concerned about the safety of students who must use the bridge.
“It is very dangerous, because it is used daily by heavy units, and trucks hauling tons of cane to the factory. Schoolchildren walk over it every day,” he said.
Member of Parliament for North Eastern St Elizabeth Delroy Slowley, who has been mourning the loss of his wife, was not available for comment. He, however, indicated that he would address the residents’ concerns at a later date.
Former Member of Parliament for the constituency, Kern Spencer, said:
“This bridge is situated on the main thoroughfare from Wilton into Braes River up to Balaclava and to the Sidney Pagan Agricultural School (formerly the Elim Agricultural School), also connecting [the]Appleton Estates.”
According to him, the foundation has experienced significant erosion over time, and given how the bridge shakes when driven on by the smallest vehicle, it cannot be long before it causes a major disaster.
Spencer argued that the significance of the bridge cannot be overemphasised as it provides a path over the Grossmond River to all the communities and spurs the economic and social life of the area.
Communications Manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, said that while he did not have any information on the Grossmond Bridge, he would make checks.
The NWA ordered the closure of the road between Ginger Hill and Four Paths in January because of the failure of one of the abutments of the Jones River Bridge.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for works, Everald Warmington, who also toured the constituency in January, had announced the pending repair of a number of bridges and roads, but the Grossmond Bridge was not included. Warmington could not be reached for comments.