As per the existing design, the rail link would have obstructed the movement of road traffic on the approaches to the bridge at both ends
The design fault in the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP) is not a major issue and can be fixed within a week, experts and government officials said.
The government’s expert panel on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (PMBP) on Saturday submitted a proposal to the Bridges Division with three possible solutions to the alignment fault in the PBRLP.
“It is not a massive design fault so there is no need for major structural changes. Basically, we identified an alignment fault in the Padma Bridge Rail Link project where the Padma Bridge and rail link cross each other,” said Prof Shamim Z Bosunia, chairman of the expert panel.
“We have already submitted a proposal with solutions to the problem to the Bridge Division,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
“There are three options in our proposal, the bridge and railway authorities can choose any of them,” Prof Bosunia added.
Belayet Hossain, secretary of the Bridges Division, said: “We have received the proposal and are working on it now. We can solve the design related problem within this week.”
Standard measurements not followed
As per the existing design, the rail link would have obstructed the movement of road traffic on the approaches to the Padma Bridge at both ends - Mawa and Janjira.
According to the Bridges Division, the height of the rail line was set at 4.8m and 5.2m at Mawa and Janjira, respectively, instead of the standard height of 5.7m. Furthermore, the width of the rail link was shown as 9.5m at Janjira and 10m at Mawa, instead of the standard 15.5m.
Prof Bosunia, former professor of the civil engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said: “Padma Bridge is a part of the Asian Highway, so such problems in the measurements should be removed. The initial thought was to lower the Padma Bridge road to get the right height, but that is not a good solution.
“We have proposed revising the viaduct of the Padma Bridge rail link and remodelling the alignment of the project. If this method is applied, the girders of the rail link will not need to be changed,” he added.
However, the implementation of the PBRLP will be delayed and project cost will rise again.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet Division directed the railway and bridge authorities to solve the design fault issue immediately, as both PBRLP and PMBP are fast-tracked projects of the government.
On Friday, Railways Ministry Secretary Md Selim Reza, Bridges Division Secretary Md Belayet Hossain, and project directors of both projects visited the project area to inspect the problem.
They found the connecting road of the Padma Bridge goes underneath pier 25(1) and 25(2) of the rail link viaduct at the Janjira end, as well as at pier 13 and 14 at Mawa. A total of 21 piers have already been constructed with RCC girders.
Subsequently, the railway and bridge authorities assigned the panel of experts to solve the problem.
“As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked us to solve the problem, we have submitted three solutions without changing the girders of the rail link project as it is too difficult,” said Prof Basunia.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan and Secretary Md Selim Reza could not be reached for comment by phone.
Railway Director General Md Shamsuzzaman said the faults would not affect the main project as they would only have to fix a couple of piers as per the proposal from the expert panel.
The Bangladesh Bridge Authority under the Bridges Division started construction work of the Padma Multipurpose Project in November 2014 and are scheduled to complete the 6.15 double-decker bridge by June 2021. At a cost of Tk 30,193 crore, the bridge will connect Dhaka with the south-western part of the country.
Bangladesh Railway under the Railways Ministry started work on the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project in January 2016. Work on the 169km rail link between Dhaka and Jessore is scheduled to be completed by June 2024. The rail link project will cost at least Tk 39,246 crore and is being constructed in four segments — Dhaka-Gandaria, Gandaria-Mawa, Mawa-Bhanga Junction, and Bhanga Junction-Jessore.