Takti Zam officially opened for traffic

Takti Zam officially opened for traffic

Project DANTAK says there is no need for any apprehensions about the bridge’s strength as it has followed all standard protocols right from the foundation

The newly constructed bridge at Taktichhu on the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway was finally inaugurated and opened to traffic on April 24 after almost five years in the making. However public apprehensions remain about how durable the bridge is.

Erasing any apprehensions about the strength and durability of the bridge, the Nu 200 Million project boasts a length of 100 meters and a breadth of around 8 meters, while the new cantilever bridge can carry upto 70 metric tonnes of weight at a go. The bridge is a pre-stressed Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) cantilever bridge resting on RCC abutments. It has two footpaths on each side measuring 1.5 meters. The steel grade used in the bridge is FE550D (high –strength and durable steels), while the strength of concrete is 35 MPa (Pre-Mixed) for sub-structure and 40 MPa for superstructure. For the first time, micro silica has been used in the mix design to achieve 40 MPa strength of the superstructure.

The bridge comprises of 10 segments of pre-stressed girders on each arm of the cantilever connected with a hinge in the centre for smoother load transfer while vehicles move from one end of the span to the other.

Project DANTAK said that adequate attention was paid towards the quality control during the construction phase. All the materials used in the bridge have been tested for their characteristics and performances vide various notified standard codes. With regard to the safety, the bridge has undergone static load test for five days and for the first time, the bridge has also been tested for dynamic loads.

The construction, which began in 2019 with an intended completion date of 2021, faced a two-year delay due to the pandemic. According to Project DANTAK, constructing the two abutments presented significant challenges due to the river’s height, the mountainous terrain, and the transportation of materials during the pandemic.

The actual construction of the bridge was finalized in November last year. However, it was not immediately opened to traffic as load tests were conducted to ensure quality control.

The new bridge is anticipated to strikingly enhance traffic flow, offering commuters smoother and safer journeys. On average, 3000 vehicles traverse between Thimphu and Phuentsholing each day.

Situated away from the Takti stream and notably taller, the bridge was strategically positioned following a thorough study. Earlier during monsoons and when the Takti stream was in full force, there would be continuous slide in that area, obstructing traffic.

Chief Engineer Brigadier Jaswinder Singh, said that Project DANTAK conducted an extensive study of the catchment area further upstream, resulting in the bridge needing to be positioned a distance away from the stream, at a specific height.

“The Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway is one of the most important connectivity links in Bhutan. Over the years, traffic on the road has increased by many folds. Today this important access is used by large numbers of commercial and passenger traffic in and out of Bhutan,” the Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela said during the inauguration.

The ambassador said that both the old and the new Taktichhu bridges are a testament to close bond of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. “I warmly congratulate Project DANTAK, Royal Government of Bhutan, the entire team of experts, engineers and workers who have devoted their efforts and energy in completing this project despite all the challenges of covid 19 pandemic,” he added.

He further reasserted, “It has been an honor for India to partner with government and people of Bhutan in this development journey. Ours has been a privileged partnership covering diverse sectors where our partnership is guided by the principles of GNH and is in line with the priorities of the RGoB and the people of Bhutan.”

“Our enduring partnership is a testament to the vision and wisdom of their Majesties of Bhutan and successive political leadership in India who have nurtured our unique ties of friendship and cooperation for mutual benefit.”

Dalela said that infrastructure development is one of the pillars of Indo-Bhutan partnership based on which several flagship infrastructure projects have been completed over the years, benefitting the Bhutanese people and contributing to Bhutan’s overall economic development.

“Under the 12th FYP of Bhutan, India was honored to be associated with development of several connectivity projects across Bhutan. Going forward under the 13th FYP of the Royal Government of Bhutan, we are very committed to expanding our partnership with the MoIT, including seeking new avenue across borders and multi model connectivity such as railways as per the priorities of Royal Government of Bhutan,” the ambassador reassured.

Also present during the inauguration ceremony, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Chandra Bdr. Gurung said that the occasion marked a significant milestone in the exemplary friendship between India and Bhutan.

“Everybody can witness the culmination of the collaborative efforts in enhancing our infrastructure and connectivity. The Takti bridge stands as a symbol of strong bond and cooperation between our two nations,” he said, speaking at the inauguration.

Lyonpo said that it is a remarkable contribution of Project DANTAK whose unwavering dedication and expertise have played a pivotal role in the improvement of road infrastructure across Bhutan. “Their tireless efforts have not only transformed our transportation network but also facilitated economic growth and social development.”

He went on to say that the construction of Taktichhu bridge underscores the commitment to ensuring safe and efficient travel along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway by replacing the aging box culvert of 2003 with a modern 100m span pre-stressed concrete cantilever bridge. “We have not only addressed the challenges posed by increasing traffic, but also enhanced the resilience of our transportation infrastructure.”

According to Project DANTAK, the bridge successfully passed all quality control checks adhering to the highest standards of construction and engineering before the consecration and inauguration, heralding an increased load capacity of 70 metric tonnes.

Expressing gratitude, authorities also paid tribute to the local community of Wangkha for their invaluable support in sourcing high quality materials for the construction of the bridge.

As the new bridge is now accessible to traffic, commuters meanwhile expressed a sense of enhanced safety when crossing the stream.

Gonpo Tshering, a commuter, remarked, “I am delighted that the bridge is finally opened today. This development is promising and will benefit us all. Going forward, commuting will be more convenient for us.”

Another commuter shared that previously, the bridge would often get submerged by overflowing water, particularly in the summer. “With the new bridge opening today, I am optimistic that such inconveniences will be resolved,” a jubilant Tshering Dema exclaimed.

By Sonam Lhamo & Tashi Namgyal, Thimphu