BONTOC, Mountain Province – Personnel of the Mountain Province First Engineering District are working overtime to meet the July 15 deadline set by newly installed district engineer Alex Castañeda for the construction of the Sabangan detour bridge.
During the meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council last Wednesday, Castañeda informed the public that the construction of the bridge started last June 1 and that he is personally supervising the ongoing works to meet the self-imposed time limit.
But even with the opening of the bailey detour bridge, the present landfill bridge will still be maintained for heavy delivery and freight trucks. Only vehicles with a gross weight of five tons will be allowed to pass through detour bridge.
A detour bailey bridge was put in place in 2014 when the main bridge spanning the Sabangan stretch of the Bayudan River was dismantled to give way for the construction of a new one. The detour however was washed out by the rampaging water current during the onslaught of typhoon Lawin in October last year. To remedy the situation, a makeshift landfill bridge was made but was destroyed by strong river currents last May 27. From then on, traffic became a problem with the bridge impassable when the river level rises.
It would also be noted that the repair of the destroyed landfill bridge commenced after a series of dialogues between land owners and Bontoc mayor Frank Odsey and governor Bonifacio Lacwasan.
Castañeda also reported that the construction of the main bridge will continue anytime. “I talked with the contractor and he gave me an assurance that he will restart the project the soonest,” Castaneda revealed.
Construction works stopped after some affected families complained about unforeseen effects of the “Manila-designed” project. It took almost three years to make and seek the approval of its redesign.
Castañeda likewise reported that his office might be able to find an early solution to the Bontoc-Barlig-Natonin national road problem which up to now remains closed to traffic. “The owner of the land where we plan to open a by-pass road that will connect the disconnected national highway at Balabag is willing to talk with us. Construction of a by-pass road is still the most feasible and fastest solution. The Bontoc side abutment of the temporary bridge was gradually loosened by continuous rains and it would take time to strengthen it,”.
The temporary bridge was built to join the washed out portion of the national highway.
Meanwhile, DPWH engineers continue to monitor the Samoki bridge which connects the eastern and western parts of the province. The midsection of the bridge sagged down when its posts were battered by the raging waters brought by typhoon Lawin. “We are still waiting for the recommendation of experts and consultants who came and assessed the status of the bridge”, the district engineer answered when asked when the repair will start.
As of now, only light vehicles are allowed passage through the bridge.
By Angel Baybay