Work on Dos Hermanos Bridge to begin in March

Volume: 36 | No: 7
Page : 37
Issued : 02/21/2008

Project will go to bid later this month, with demolition and construction work slated to start next month. The wait is finally over. After three years of inactivity on the $25 million Dos Hermanos Bridge in Condado, the project will go to bid later this month with construction slated to begin in March.

The good news was confirmed Monday by Puerto Rico Highway & Transportation Authority (HTA) Communications Director Irma Mollero.

According to Mollero, HTA submitted the mitigation plan for seagrass transplantation as well as a baseline assessment of the seagrass at the mitigation site as requested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) conditioned permit in order to resume demolition and construction work on the controversial structure (CB Feb. 7).

According to the 12-page USACE Dec. 3, 2007 permit document obtained by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS, the authorized work and demolition of the existing bridge could not begin until HTA had submitted a complete mitigation plan for seagrass transplantation as well as a baseline assessment of the seagrass at the mitigation site and had obtained approval from USACE.

USACE originally gave HTA a Jan. 17 deadline to submit the mitigation plan and the seagrass baseline assessment, but HTA requested a 45-day extension (March 3, 2008), which USACE granted.

“The Dos Hermanos Bridge project should go out to bid later this month and construction work should begin in March,” Mollero announced during a phone interview Monday.

Demolition work on the bridge was halted in 2005 after USACE denied the renewal of the construction permit because of changes in its original design and the discovery of coral colonies by the National Marine Fisheries.

USACE’s original permit for work on the bridge built in 1980 dates back to 1998. In 2002, a $21.4 million bid was awarded to Las Piedras Construction for the demolition of the original structure and construction of a new bridge. Construction work began in July 2003 and a temporary steel bridge was placed alongside the original bridge in 2004.

When HTA requested the permit’s renewal in 2005, USACE requested information since the proposed new bridge was redesigned. In August 2005, the National Marine Fisheries stated work on the bridge would adversely affect the coral colonies on one of the bridge’s pillars.

The Dos Hermanos Bridge is the main thoroughfare between Condado—San Juan’s main tourism sector—and the islet of Puerta de Tierra / Old San Juan. Since the demolition of the bridge and the placement of the temporary steel bridge, traffic between Condado and Puerta de Tierra has been a nightmare for local residents and tourists alike, not to mention an eyesore to the famous Condado lagoon.