Controversy Surrounds Haulover Bridge Construction Quality; Chief Engineer Clarifies

Controversy Surrounds Haulover Bridge Construction Quality; Chief Engineer Clarifies

There are still some minor additions pending for the new Haulover Bridge until the official inauguration takes place.  Yesterday, however, concerns surfaced over the bridge’s expansion joints. Pictures began circulating online showing a portion of the bridge where the hot mix was peeled away revealing strips of plywood. This led to major criticisms that the bridge may have been built with sub-standard materials. This forced the Chief Engineer in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Evondale Moody, to provide an answer as to whether the integrity of the bridge is questionable.  In today’s interview Moody detailed how the bridge was constructed and stressed that the plywood was used as a temporary measure to protect the material below the hot mix.  He also stressed that the use of plywood for this process is standard engineering practice that is applied worldwide.

Evondale Moody, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “So what has basically transpired is that when we were placing the hot mix on top of the bridge we had to cover the expansion joint. The expansion joint basically has an elastomeric bearing pad which is this rubbery material here an that is between the joint so that when the bridge expands and contracts it bucks against this rubber so that you don’t have the two concrete bucking together because if that happens then the bridge will crack. And so engineering wise you have to put in expansion joints. So this entire bridge structure has six expansion joints. So when we were placing the hot mix we had to protect this rubbery because the hot mix is a super heate material that over four hundred degrees fahrenheit and so we did not want to damage this material because it’s very important for the bridge. So what we did we protected that rubber with a piece of plywood so that that could absorb the heat when we were placing the hot mix and the idea is that we would have to come back and take it out. Before we were able to do that there was a section of the plywood that had broken and that was what the public was seeing in terms of the hot mix coming off the plywood. And so that is not a pothole because as I mentioned before the main bridge structure is eleven inches thick of concrete there will be no potholes on the bridge, absolutely none. And so that misconception has to be corrected and I think it was important for us to explain the basic process that is being done in an effort to create these expansion joints for the bridge.”

Moody added that criticism is expected from those who are not familiar with engineering processes, but maintains that the ministry is hard at work so that the bridge can be fully opened to the public.

Evondale Moody, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “Well I mean that’s our Belizeans for us right ? They always criticize and you never get a positive comment from them no matter what you do. So even though I’m explaining here now what the process, the technical process is I’m not sure if they’re going to believe or not but that is what we have to do technically for the bridge and from my knowledge we’re doing what is properly right ot be done and it’s done worldwide so it’s not something we’re reinventing it’s what is supposed to be done. So far today we have completed three of them. What we had to do was to cut the asphalt at that expansion joint, remove the plywood and then replace that section of plywood with a 1/8 thick metal plate which is tack welded to the iron which we could show you in a moment and that will protect the elastomeric bearing expansion joint and then thereafter we will replace that with the hot mix which we have done so far for today. So we have done three sections half of the distance and so we expect to do the other half later today.”

Moody reiterated that with maintenance, the bridge should last a hundred years.

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