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Historic suspension bridge at Blanchisseuse replaced
A suspension bridge in Blanchisseuse, more than a century old, has been condemned and replaced by a modern Bailey bridge at a cost of $2.7 million. The suspension bridge is one of only two in the country and will be preserved, Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner promised yesterday as he officially opened the new Bailey Bridge.
Warner said the suspension bridge would be repaired and used only for foot traffic. He praised officials of the ministry who, in just over two months, were able to come up with this bridge for Blanchisseuse. Warner was addressing a small gathering under a tent that included acting Tourism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters, Arima MP Rodger Samuel, Ministry of Works officials and villagers.
There was the setback of some iron being stolen from the new bridge, which cost the ministry between $30,000 and $40,000 to replace, he said. Loney Charles, an 82-year old member of the Blanchisseuse village council, thanked Warner for the speedy erection of the Bailey bridge. “It is the first time that Blanchisseuse got a project done so quickly,” she noted.
Charles seized the opportunity to remind Warner that there was a road in the area of the 67-mile post, where four people died in a car accident in May 1998, that also needs repairing. “The caution tape is still there, and two drums,” she said during a short address.
Further, she is also hoping to see something done about the dilapidated Arima/Blanchisseuse Road, she said. Warner promised Charles he would complete the road by November 18, her 83rd birthday, as a gift to her. Joseph Esau, another village representative, said the suspension bridge is “very pretty” and remains of historical and aesthetic value to residents.
The bridge was the only form of access for villagers who cultivated land beyond it and for a number of residents living across the river, he said. It was also an access route for major hiking and environmental activities on the North Coast, and, indirectly, served all of T&T, he said.
The wooden planks are now rotten and no longer fit for use, he said. The suspension bridge became too dangerous for traffic and to expensive to maintain. He said it was replaced by the Bailey bridge which will provide improved access to villagers, farmers and hikers.
Samuel said no major roadworks had been done in the Arima constituency, which includes Blanchisseuse, parts of La Fillette and Heights of Aripo, for 30 years. “Arima has been abandoned all this time. After 28 years we have been able to build a bridge,” he said. Peters said the new Bailey bridge will enhance food security by giving farmers easy access to their lands.
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