Demerara Harbour Bridge
The Demerara Harbour Bridge is a 6,074-foot (1,851 m) long floating toll bridge. It was commissioned on 2 July 1978. The bridge crosses the Demerara River 4 miles (6.4 km) south of the Guyanese capital Georgetown, from Peter's Hall, East Bank Demerara to Schoon Ord, West Bank Demerara. There is a pedestrian footwalk. A raised section lets small vessels pass under. A retractor span lets large vessels pass. Construction of the Demerara Harbour Bridge began on 29 May 1976. Construction assistance was provided by the British Government, but the basic design was by a Guyanese, Capt. John Patrick Coghlan. The bridge was only designed to last 10 years, yet it is still going strong. Toll is collected only in one direction of travel even though the bridge handles one lane of traffic in each direction. Traffic going west to east pays no toll.
The bridge is exactly 1.25 miles (2.01 km) long and has 61 spans. A high-level span provides a horizontal clearance of 32.0 metres (105 ft) and a vertical clearance of 7.9 metres (26 ft) to let small craft pass at all times. To let large craft pass, two retractor spans retract fully to leave a horizontal clearance of 77.4 metres (254 ft).
The expanding country needed a way to transport and link its people. Most of the country's population lives within 80 miles (130 km) of Georgetown and it is important to link these people together. The only thing keeping Georgetown apart from West Bank Demerara was the Demerara River. The government decided to construct a floating bridge to accommodate growing business and trade across Guyana.
The Demerara Harbour Bridge is managed by the Management and Monitoring Unit, Demerara Harbour Bridge Rehabilitation Project (MMU-DHB-RP), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Public Works(MPW). MMU, however functions independently of the MPW, and maintains a full staff responsible for maintenance, management, construction and operation. MMU also maintains financial independence based on revenue earned from tolls (vehicle and water-borne vessels). They have a staff of about 60 people. The schedule of closures to road traffic, alert messages for the public, details on the history of the bridge, etc. is available on the official Harbour Bridge website.
On Monday 23 July 2012 at 06:45 Span 61, the western retractor span collapsed during maintenance work, causing it to partly sink trapping a minibus. No injuries resulted but as all the larger ferries are decommissioned it caused major disruption.