Highway Authority Contractor to Remove Utuado Bridge

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The Highway and Transportation Authority (ACT) will mobilize, this week, a contractor to remove the prefabricated bridge that was installed in the Salto Arriba sector of Utuado and whose useful life was just four yearsafter the flooding of the Rio Grande de Arecibo dragged it into the middle of the hurricane fiona.

The director of the ACT, Edwin Gonzalez Montalvoreported, in written statements to The new day, that “due to the urgency of the situation” they will use a contractor with available equipment for this work. At press time, the public corporation did not specify the name of the company.

“The bridge is an obstruction that must be removed as soon as possible,” acknowledged González Montalvo.

The engineering battalion Puerto Rican National Guard (GNPR) had already done their own assessment of the area. He had even recommended temporarily tying the bridge down with chains to minimize the risk of it being swept away by floodwaters and impacting other bridges in its path.

The temporary bridge was installed in 2018 at a total cost of $1,579,230, which included prefabricated parts, labor and installation, reported the ACT. The Constructora Santiago II company carried out the installation work.

the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP), Eileen Velez Vegahad acknowledged, in a press conference, that this type of temporary bridge is made as an emergency response without hydraulic and hydrological studies (HH), which guide engineers what elevation the structure should have, according to the highest rising in a period of 100 years.

However, the hydrologist Ferdinand Quinonesformer director of Federal Geological Survey in the Caribbean, indicated that “There is abundant data on the flow in the Río Grande de Arecibo that made it clear and evident that this bridge was very short”.

Prior to hurricane mariathere was in the Salto Arriba sector a ford bridge, made of cement, at the same level as the road, which was designed so that the water passes over it and is reused once the flood subsides, reported the ACT.

González Montalvo said that the expectation is to publish the auction for the permanent construction of this bridge in 2024.

Other jurisdictions such as the state of Washington have policies in place to require any temporary bridge to be for a period of five years or less.observed the engineer and professor of the Mayagüez University Campus from the UPR, Benjamin Colucci. “If that Utuado bridge was expected to last more than 5 years, it should have considered permanent structure elements and HH studies,” he pointed out.

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