Locals, concerned about accident risks, demand construction of permanent bridges, renovation of the road
The 12 bailey bridges on the Tangail side of Tangail-Aricha Highway are in rickety state, raising the risk of road accidents.
Locals and commuters of the highway are concerned, and have demanded that permanent bridges be constructed in place of the bailey bridges, and the roads be widened as well.
According to the Tangail office of the Roads and Highways Department, about 35.5km of the 55.5km Tangail-Aricha Highway falls in Tangail district; the rest falls in Manikganj.
The highway starts from Tangail town and exits to Dhaka-Aricha Highway in Manikganj’s Borangail area, through Dhaleshwari Bridge in Tangail’s Delduar upazila, Nagarpur, and then Manikganj’s Doulatpur and Gior.
These 12 bailey bridges, which were supposed to be used temporarily, were installed when this highway was constructed about 20 years ago, according to the RHD sources.
Locals said since the Dhaleshwari Bridge was constructed and opened for public use in 2013, traffic on Tangail-Aricha Highway has increased multifold, since they no longer need to use the ferry to cross Dhaleshwari River.
Both cargo trucks and long-haul passenger buses use this highway to travel between the southern parts of the country and the northern districts Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Sherpur, etc. In addition, several hundreds of CNG-run auto rickshaws commute on the highway every day.
Because of the heavy traffic, the bailey bridges have become unstable, which is why the commuters have to use the highway at great risks, local complained. The local roads and highways authority even installed warning signs at the mouths of the bridges saying: “Risky bailey bridge, cross carefully.”
On a recent visit, Dhaka Tribune found that the steel floors of all the bailey bridges had eroded in several places. Locals said lighter vehicles such as motorcycles often slip on the bridges and fall in accidents, and the entire structures wobble when heavier vehicles get on the bridges.
“In January, a truck got stuck on one of the bridges. Later, the bridge was repaired,” said Zafar Ali, a resident of Tangail’s Tirsa village.
Azizul Islam, a truck driver who frequently travels on Tangail-Aricha Highway, said: “Whenever I cross these bailey bridges, I panic because it feels as though the bridges are going to collapse.”
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Golam Kibria Boromoni, general secretary of Tangail District Bus-Minibus Owners Association, said: “It is necessary to construct permanent bridges in place of the bailey bridges, as well as to widen the highway. The upgrade will make travelling between the greater Mymensingh region and South Bengal better and easier.”
When contacted in this regard, Amimul Ahsan, executive architect of the Roads and Highways Department in Tangail, said: “A proposal for constructing permanent bridges and improving the roads has been sent to the higher authorities. As soon as Ecnec approves the proposal, which I hope will happen soon, we will start the work.”