Connectivity: The 160-foot bailey bridge at Kamji on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway opened to traffic on July 30, the same day it was completed.
Light vehicles and passenger buses are currently allowed to use the bridge. Heavy vehicles are not.
The bridge was constructed in just five days by DANTAK to re-connect the Phuentsholing and Thimphu highway after a 100-foot stretch of the road was washed away on July 24.
This bridge was a joint effort between Project DANTAK and the Department of Roads (DoR) with the majority of the bridge materials being provided by DoR and some provided by the Indian Army.
Following a visit to the site, His Majesty The King also deputed 50 Royal Bhutan Army personnel to assist DANTAK.
Along with the RBA personnel, and DANTAK and DoR teams, road safety officials, traffic police, Desuups, and other volunteers also aided in constructing the bridge.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay who was in Phuentsholing also visited the Kamji site repeatedly besides visiting other affected areas.
“Our herculean effort finally saw the entire Phuentsholing-Thimphu road being opened for traffic,” a DANTAK official said.
A Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) official in Phuentsholing, Sonam Tshering, said traffic police in Gedu and Rinchending are monitoring the traffic. “Traffic personnel are also there at the bridge to control,” he said.
Due to the bad road conditions on the Pasakha-Manitar alternative route, vehicles carrying more than 25 metric tonnes are not being allowed, Sonam Tshering said. These restrictions will be in place until the Kamji bridge has been used and studied for some time.
The launch of the bailey bridge posed many challenges and took more time than expected due to treacherous location and site conditions. The bridge was built even as hundreds of travellers were allowed to walk over the washed away portion on a remaining narrow ledge.
Continuous rain and poor visibility also hampered work.
The two-base-two-storey bailey bridge of class 24 category is the first of its kind in the country, said DANTAK officials.
Heavy rains last week saw multiple landslides and widespread damages to roads in many parts of the country. Some roads were blocked for several days.
DANTAK officials said that their entire team had been at work to clear the slides throughout the week.
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing