ISLAMABAD: The National Highway Authority has urged the authorities concerned to declare the 127-year-old Lansdowne Bridge in Sukkur district of Sindh a national heritage site, The Express Tribune has learnt.
At the same time, the NHA has approved a feasibility report to construct another bridge on the Indus River to connect Sukkur with Rohri town at an estimated cost of Rs6.5 billion to share the traffic load of Lansdowne Bridge.
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According to documents available with The Express Tribune, the bridge, which is known for its fabled beauty, has become unsafe for travelling.
The lifespan of Lansdowne Bridge (inaugurated on March 25, 1889 and considered as world’s largest span continuous rigid frame box girder bridge) has almost ended. Notwithstanding, the traffic volume on the bridge is constantly increasing.
“The bridge is not in a condition to bear an increasing (load of traffic). It might give in anytime resulting in some mishap. Therefore, there is a dire need to construct a new bridge to shift the burden of traffic on an immediate basis,” say the documents.
NHA spokesman Kashif Zaman told The Express Tribune that a number of sites with great archaeological and religious significance exist along Lansdowne Bridge.
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“The new Sukkur-Rohri bridge will also serve to promote tourism by providing a smooth route to all historical sites such as Sadhu Bela that holds the sacred Sikh Gurdwara of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Teerath Asthan, the largest Hindu Temple in Pakistan, without having any kind of traffic congestions.”
The Sukkur-Rohri bridge will be the first cable-stayed bridge in the country with a length stretching about 0.85km.
Zaman further said that they were hiring a consultant for a detailed design of the bridge after which its PC-1 would be presented before the NHA executive board for approval.
According to the documents, the feasibility study would cost around Rs60 million whereas approximately Rs300 million will be required for its detailed designing. “These are initial estimates,” Zaman said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2016.