EDITORIAL FEATURES

Bridges make major links

lit up: Lamp posts on the bridge across the Cauvery on the Tiruchi-Chennai by-pass road. — PHOTO:R.M.RAJARATHINAM.  

The central region accounts for many vital bridges across major and minor rivers. Some of these bridges are lengthy ones, proving the mettle of our engineering talent and ensuring free flow of traffic.

The bridges across the rivers Cauvery and Coleroon on each of the island town of Srirangam have been the cynosure of all eyes. The bridge across river Cauvery was constructed in 1846 and it was dedicated to the memory of Dalton, Kilpatrick and four other officers of the English Army which fought gallantly to save Tiruchi from the French in the middle of the 18th century. This bridge consisted of 32 spans and 572 metre in length. This bridge following considered unfit was abandoned for traffic.

A new bridge was constructed towards the west of the old one in 1963. The Coleroon bridge was constructed in 1852 and was dedicated to Lord Pigot, the then Governor and defender of Fort St. George in 1759. This accounted for 38 spans and its length is 843 metre. To establish a link between Salem and Tiruchi districts, a bridge across Cauvery was constructed then at Pugalur near Karur. In the absence of a bridge, a ferry service was operating here for transporting the people between the two banks. Though the construction of this bridge was planned in the 1930s, its execution was postponed due to the World War II. The total length of this bridge is 803 metres with 40 spans.

After Independence, two bridges were built in 1947 across Maruthaiyar – one on the Tiruchi – Chidambaram road and the other one at Tirumanur. Two more bridges were built on the Tiruchi – Chidambaram road.

The Kudamurutti arched bridge is on Tiruchi – Coimbatore and was constructed with brick, sand and lime to a length of 197 metre. Marudaiyar bridge on the Koilpatti – Tirumanur road is an arched bridge with nine spans. Another bridge across the river Marudaiyar constructed in 1959 has 15 spans. A bridge on Tiruchi – Viralimalai road was constructed in 1964.

A big bridge – Thanthai Periyar bridge – was constructed across Cauvary to connect Kulithalai and Musiri towns. The foundation stone for the 1.5-km-long bridge was laid in 1971 but it took eight years for the structure to be thrown open to the public. The longest bridge across any river in the State and the second largest bridge in the state behind the world renowned Pamban bridge over the sea connecting the Rameswaram with the main land, the Thanthai Periyar Bridge forms an important link to the towns on either banks.

Since then, constant wear and tear, have taken a toll on the structure necessitating immediate repair work. The government in 2006 deputed a team of experts from Highways Department to estimate the extent of damage caused to bridge. Based on the team's recommendations, major repair work estimated to cost Rs. 2.9 crore, were taken up in 2007.

The NHAI constructed 22 bridges, including three major ones across Coleroon, Cauvery and Upparu.