The death of a 78-year-old man after he was accidentally wedged between the handrail of the Iritty bridge at the Iritty town here and a private bus on July 31 has turned the spotlight on the old dilapidated bridge that has outlived its utility and on risks being faced by pedestrians using it. The mishap was caused when the man identified as V. Raghavan of Payancheri near Iritty was stuck between the guard rail of the bridge and the bus on its way to Koottupuzha on the Karnataka border on Friday afternoon.
The mishap sparked protests by local people in the town. The narrow bridge commissioned 82 years ago is posing threat to pedestrians crossing it. The bridge located on the Iritty-Mysuru inter-State highway is already in a state of ruins as no rectification work has been carried out over the past three years since the Public Works Department handed over the road stretch to the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) for its Phase-2 work of the Thalassery-Valavupara road upgradation.
A parallel bridge to replace the Iritty bridge is one of the seven bridges proposed under the KSTP upgradation work which is in limbo now with the termination of the contract awarded to a major construction company allegedly because of the delay in completing the works. “The bridge barely has width for two large vehicles such as buses and lorries and therefore pedestrians using it are often stuck between the bridge handrail and the vehicles,” said an engineer at the PWD office at Iritty.
Opened in 1933 with a capacity of 10 tonnes, the bridge having five piers, girders and steel framework has withstood the ravages of time. It was built by the British to connect Kodagu and Thalassery.
Today scores of inter-State buses including luxury buses to and from Bengaluru pass through the bridge every day. The dilapidated condition of the bridge had triggered protests by local people the other day.
“The bridge barely has width for two large vehicles such as buses and lorries and therefore pedestrians using it are often stuck between the bridge handrail and the vehicles,” says an engineer at the PWD office at Iritty.