A team of engineers on Saturday successfully replaced an-18-year-old pontoon that was on the western retractor span of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. The bridge had to be closed for some six hours to facilitate critical maintenance works.By the time the media arrived at the worksite, some three hours after closure, steps were already being taken to reassemble the connections on the new pontoon.General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company, Rawlston Adams, updated reporters on the works. He explained that DHB personnel actually started work since Wednesday, dismantling the stairs. The following day, they installed a temporary pontoon to hold up the portion of the bridge where the replacement was taking place.The southern wrench being repositioned on the new pontoonOn Friday, they removed the wrenches and other connections on the old pontoon – all in preparation for Saturday’s major task.“This morning’s (Saturday) operation was to remove the old pontoon and install the new pontoon. We got the new pontoon installed (at) about 10:00h, and after (that), we started to reassemble the pipes and wrenches on the new pontoon… But we had some nasty weather. We tried to work through it, but it was difficult and there was a second round of shower, so we’re persevering,” Adams explained to reporters.He disclosed that the team, comprising engineers from DHBC and the contracting company, Industrial Fabrications Inc. (INFAB), will return to the site to remove the temporary pontoon.Afterwards, the hydraulics will be reinstalled, and then testing will commence to ensure that the bridge can retract for marine traffic. The testing exercise will continue on Monday, and then, on Tuesday, the bridge will retract for the first time in four days to facilitate marine traffic.The workers reassembling the connections onto the new pontoon“The hardest part was to get the old pontoon out, and that was done; so we’re now in the reconnecting phase… (But) we’ve learnt a lot from this exercise in terms of planning for the new one, so we’re documenting everything here so that we can go back to the drawing table and review what was done and make plans so that we can reduce the time it takes for some of these works,” he noted.This, the General Manager added, will be helpful when DHB officials embark on the second phase of the project — to replace another pontoon on the eastern side of the retractor span.While Adams commended his team for an excellent job done, he, at the same time, expressed disappointment with the public for turning up at the bridge during the closure, when several ads and PSAs (public service announcements) were done to inform about Saturday’s closure. He further pointed out that they’ve managed to do all the other works without disturbing vehicular traffic on the other days.Stretching for 1.25 miles, the floating Demerara Harbour Bridge is a strategic link between the eastern and western banks of the Demerara river. It facilitates the daily movement of large numbers of vehicles, people, and cargo. The structure was built in the 1970s, but was opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting for only 10 years. However, some three decades later, it is still floating.Meanwhile, the process is still ongoing for a new Demerara River crossing to be built. A feasibility study was conducted to determine several factors, among which are location and type of bridge. That report was handed over to the Public Infrastructure Ministry, and is now before Cabinet for review.