Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Marianne Suspension Bridge

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1898. Marianne River Bridge, Trinidad.
1898. Marianne River Bridge Detail, Trinidad.
1898. Marianne River Refurbished Bridge, Trinidad.

Built and erected by P. and W. MacLellan in 1898, The Marianne suspension bridge is just over a century old.

It has a span of 48.5m (159’-0”) and originally spanned the Ortoire River via the Naparima-Mayaro Road, Trinidad.*

A more modern through-truss steel bridge replaced it circa 1951, when the original was dismantled and transferred to its present location on Paria Main Road, over the Marianne River in the village of Blanchisseuse.*

Even though the bridge was originally intended to carry pedestrian loads and animal-drawn carts, it was gradually subjected, over the years, to heavier loads of increasing frequency. Heavily loaded pickup trucks and mini-lorries which caused large displacement waves in the flexible deck, became a common sight during the last two decades. This led to premature deterioration of the timber deck - loose and damaged planks - which made effective maintenance difficult. Its remote location and the burgeoning labour and material costs strained the meagre district budgetary allocations. Furthermore, there were increasing reports of hapless pedestrians being almost pushed off the bridge by increasingly impatient and uncaring drivers.*

In 2012, the Ministry of Works & Infrastructure (MoW&I) installed a 42.7m (140’-0”) long Mabey modular bridge on the downstream side of the existing bridge. This bridge provides single-lane vehicular access for the expanding residential community.*

In order to provide safe pedestrian access for villagers and visitors taking part in hiking and environmental activities on the North Coast, the MoW&I added the suspension bridge to its Bridges Reconstruction Programme (Phase I) in 2011. The consultants, BBFL (now Beston Consulting), were asked to prepare a full rehabilitation scheme for upgrading, as far as possible, the bridge superstructure to modern engineering standards. In particular, it was agreed that the bridge should be stiffened without significantly altering the appearance and diminishing the character of the bridge.*

In 2015 a contract was awarded to Amnesty Construction to carry out the repair and strengthening works for this attractive historic bridge. The job was completed in 2017, at a cost of TT$3.3 million, thus making it extremely cost-effective. Indeed, there are many old landmark bridges in Trinidad and Tobago especially old steel truss bridges - which can be restored and reused at a cost that is very competitive with that of a new bridge.*

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Information supplied by Ian Khan-Kernahan