|The re-constructed Bhogdoi bridge in Jorhat on Thursday. Telegraph picture
Jorhat, July 17: The public works department will open the newly reconstructed bridge over the Bhogdoi on the busy AT Road that connects two parts of Jorhat town by July 26.
The RCC bridge, with an arch-shaped steel frame, was reconstructed at a cost of Rs 7.18 crore as the previous one, completed 40 years ago, had developed internal damage.
The new one is designed to be bigger, with a wider carriageway for vehicles and pavements.
The delay in the project had led to severe criticism of the state government.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned the delay in completion of the bridge in his speech at Sivasagar while campaigning for the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat, which was wrested by the BJP from the Congress for the first time.
Modi had ridiculed chief minister Tarun Gogoi for not being able to complete the 16.4-metre bridge in his hometown, four years after laying the foundation stone in November 2010. The bridge was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
Last month, the government had suspended three officials, including an assistant executive engineer of the PWD, for the delay.
It had another contractor to assist and augment the work in view of the slow pace of work by the contractor, Raju Agarwala, who was executing the project.
PWD executive engineer (Jorhat division) B.P. Doley told this correspondent today that after another contractor — Bokakhat-based M.P. Agarwala — was engaged by the department nearly 20 days ago, the construction has been almost completed.
He said the work was done on a war footing, with the PWD dividing the work between the two contractors.
Doley said “finishing touches” were being given to the bridge, with the two approach roads on both sides nearing completion.
The executive engineer said pedestrians were already being allowed to use the bridge.
“We hope that by July 26, we will be able to open the bridge to vehicular traffic,” he said, adding that the formal opening function will be organised by the district administration, most likely in August.
The washing away of one of the two temporary bridges (only for pedestrians and two-wheelers) in the middle of June last year, because of the rise in the water level of the Bhogdoi after heavy rainfall, had led to much hue and cry.
Only after a fortnight, one of the wooden bridges was restored but deep resentment has been prevailing among the people because of the snapping of communication on the main road here.
Jorhat MLA and AICC secretary Rana Goswami had visited the construction site recently and criticised the PWD and the contractor for the delay.
Goswami had recommended to the Jorhat deputy commissioner to impose penalty against the first contractor (Raju Agarwala) according to PWD rules for the delay.