With the Department of Roads (DoR) ensuring that works complete before the monsoon arrives, the new  Tsirang-Gelephu highway at the old Sarpang town could open to traffic next month.

At the location where the old town existed, the DoR have accumulated sand that stands 9.5-meter tall, creating a 517metre long river embankment. The embankment stretches from an area below the fuel depot until the Army watch tower.

The Tsirang-Sarpang highway will run over the embankment. Walls of the embankment will have AB mattress that looks like bags of cement arranged in row.

Chief executive engineer with DoR, CB Mongar, said that before laying the AB mattress at the river embankment, at least 19 gabion walls would be built.

Each gabion wall will be built at 30m intervals. “These gabion walls will reduce the velocity of river water,” he said. He added that the gabion wall would also divert the course of the river.”

It has been few days that works have come to a halt. DoR is waiting for the arrival of AB mattress, which is being imported from the United States. CB Mongar said that the works and human settlement ministry has already given a supply order for AB mattress. It is expected to arrive within 45 days.

The chief engineer said articulating blocks and laying AB mattress is the safest method to divert water and stop water from scarping. “It also has high strength.”

Should work on the embankment remain incomplete before the beginning of monsoon, Sarpang river that washed away an entire Sarpang town last year is likely to cause more damage. The existing fuel depot and the vegetable shed are also at threat.

The highway stretch will have a mass tree plantation next year and a footpath will also be built soon.

For the last three months, the DoR has deployed, along with 15 workers, six excavators, two JCBs, two road rollers, 12 trucks, a motor grader and a water tanker each at the site full time.

The 517m stretch road will also require construction of a bridge at a sinking area near the fuel depot.  A 10m RCC bridge will be constructed later. As a temporary measure hume pipes will be laid until the bridge is constructed. The project has a budget of Nu 127 million.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu