San Juanico bridge prepares retrofitting

TACLOBAN CITY — The iconic San Juanico Bridge — which connects Samar and Leyte islands — will undergo a retrofitting for it to be able to withstand the increasing pressures on it while its alternate, the proposed Janbatas Bridge, remains on the drawing board.

Engineer Edgar Tabacon, regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways, said that the agency has set aside an initial fund of P150-million for comprehensive structural investigation on the current condition of the bridge.

The San Juanico Bridge, which formally opened in 2 July 1973, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Tabacon said the bridge inspection will include an underwater investigation on two columns — piers 14 and 15, which has the longest span on the bridge and has already shown some damage due to then increasing volume and weight of vehicles passing the bridge.

“The 10-wheeler trucks that pass on the bridge are supposed to weigh 38 tons but these trucks now weigh as much as 50 tons. Imagine the excess in load that the bridge has to carry on a regular basis and considering also that it is already 50 years old,” Tabacon said.

He added that the initial fund of P150 million will increase up to P450 million as the engineers doing the inspection are expected to uncover more problems on the bridge that may be included in the retrofitting.

Tabacon said that when the retrofitting is completed, the bridge will be structurally fit with a strength that is as good as new.

Meantime, Tabacon said construction of the alternate bridge already has the full support of the Japan government through its official development agency, the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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