Falling boulder damages Dzongkhalum bridge

Infrastructure: The Dzongkhalum bridge in Trongsa suffered minor damage when the old bridge that was yet to be dismantled crashed into it after being hit by falling boulders.

The incident occurred on the night of July 14.

The new bridge was built to replace the old bridge which suffered major damage in 2012. The force of the impact bent one of the four steel girders (load-bearing beams) of the new bridge.

Some parts of the old bridge have fallen into the river. They are expected to be removed from the gorge soon.

Some of the metal railings of the new bridge have also been damaged.

People living near the bridge said they did not see the boulders falling during the day. “We were here till 6pm. Nothing had happened then,” a resident of the area said.

Works and human settlement secretary Phuntsho Wangdi, who visited the site said the new bridge is pliable although four girders have been affected. “There is no issue of immediate concern as the other three girders are in good condition,” he said.

The secretary said he would send experts to assess the condition of the bridge. He said the new bridge was strong enough to withstand the force of the falling boulders unless the rocks fall at a greater speed.

He expressed hope that no such incidents will happen again. The ministry is planning to dismantle the old bridge.

The secretary said officials would see whether the bearings have been dislocated and to assess whether the impact is going to have any implications on the bridge structure. The new bridge was taken over by the Departments of Roads (DoR) in 2015. Dzongkhalum is about 11km from Trongsa town, towards Zhemgang.

Two fresh minor landslides have occurred at one end of the bridge. The roadblock is yet to be cleared.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa

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