Motorists using the Lelata Bridge can expect a tougher and a much higher bridge in the future.
This is the indication from the Land Transport Authority’s (L.T.A.) Manager of Project Management Division, Maverick Wetzell, when he updated the media about the developments in the area yesterday.
Since Tuesday, the intersection at Central Cross Island Rd and Vailele St (Malifa/Lelata) has been temporarily closed to allow the L.T.A. and BECA to carry out a geotechnical investigation there.
Mr. Wetzell said the overall goal is to improve the protection of road users and residents in the area during times of extreme flooding.
“As you will have seen the government has completed the first segment of the river wall here and so this project is to go along the extension of the wall that will reach Lelata Bridge,” he said in a statement.
“Lelata Bridge is a crucial bridge and you know it is a connection between the Fagalii airport as well as the schools around the nearby area.”
The funding for the project is from the U.N.D.P’s Green Climate Fund.
Last year, a contract was signed with B.E.C.A. International Consultants Ltd to carry out the design and supervision of the new bridge.
“Due to the construction of the proposed flood walls, the current Lelata Bridge will have to be raised in order for both infrastructures to properly align.”
For the past couple of days, B.E.C.A. has been carrying out a geotechnical investigation as part of the design process. This is expected to be completed tomorrow.
Mr. Wetzell said the result of the investigation will be used to find suitable ground conditions for the foundation of the reconstructed bridge.
“The design of the new bridge is very similar to the design of the existing bridge but critical because with the river wall that will come here, the river will be a lot higher to the existing level existing right now
“The main criteria is to raise the level of the bridge to accommodate the height of the new river walls to achieve the main focus of this project as a whole – trying to mitigate and to minimize the effects of climate change and flooding that affects the community.”
The Project Manager wishes to extend his thanks to the public for understanding and their support.
In the meantime, Tauiliili Joe Kolose and Tavai Fruean, Owners of the Fruean Housing Accommodation by Lelata Bridge welcomed the development.
The couple have lived in the area and witnessed first hand the floods. They say they have continued to raise the ground level of their foundation and built a surrounding cemented wall to protect their home.
Since the wall was built, they say they have had no issues.
"The bridge itself it too narrow for two lanes and I think it’s really great now that the government has decided to reconstruct the bridge, hopefully with the addition of wider and more lanes for the schools nearby," Tauiliili said.