Located in the same community on the main road between Port Antonio and other important commercial centres, including Kingston and Ocho Rios, the Rio Grande bridge was severely damaged when flood waters from the Rio Grande river did extensive damage to its centre pier, rendering it unable to accommodate vehicular traffic, thereby cutting off sections of Portland from other areas of the country.
The railway bridge, which is adjacent to the Rio Grande bridge, has been out of use since the early 1980s.
Winston Palmer, Parish Manager for the NWA told JIS News that the decision to put the railway bridge back in service came out of a visit to the parish on Sunday, July 10 by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, during which Mr. Patterson instructed that work should begin immediately on the bridge.
Mr. Palmer said technical officers from the NWA were currently in the process of examining the railway bridge, with a view to presenting a report on what needed to be done. In the meantime, a technical assessment would be carried out on the Rio Grande bridge as a preliminary step to effecting the necessary repairs.
Turning to the general condition of roads in the parish, Mr. Palmer said most of the roads, which were blocked during the passage of the hurricane, have been cleared.
He noted, however, that there were still some problems in the Friday area of the Rio Grande valley where the road has been completely blocked as a result of a landslide, and the Cascade area of the Buff Bay valley where a section of the road broke away on Friday (July 8).
Mr. Palmer added that there are some roads, which could only accommodate single lane traffic because of blockages caused by landslides, fallen trees and other debris.
These include roads between Haining and Muirton, Williamsfield and Haining and Fellowship and Berrydale.
The Parish Manager said the NWA was working around the clock to correct the situation, and urged motorists to use the roads accommodating single lane traffic with great caution.