MANAMA Bahrain — A 2,600-ton tied-arch suspension bridge that will connect Naval Suppprt Activity Bahrain to 77 acres of new expansion land is on the move, but slower than officials had anticipated.
The initial plan to pre-position the bridge for a much-hyped move during the night from Thursday into Friday was delayed until Thursday morning while crews repaired a piece of equipment crucial to lift and move the nearly 400-foot bridge.
The bridge was lifted Thursday morning, but moving it has been stop-and-go because of unexpected issues.
The clock is ticking; Bahrain’s Ministry of Works gave the U.S. Navy a seven-hour window to install the bridge overnight and re-open the roadway, one of Bahrain’s busiest, by 6 a.m. Friday. Fridays in Bahrain are the equivalent of Sundays in the United States, when traffic is minimal.
Naval Support Activity Bahrain, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, has outgrown the capacity of the existing facilities and the bridge is considered an important milestone in the base’s growth. The expansion will provide space for a vehicle maintenance facility, a warehouse, a dining facility and two barracks to house about 1,000 sailors.
Army Corps of Engineers officials say the bridge project is the first of its kind in the Middle East District’s history.
Even if Thursday night’s installation is successful, the $8 million bridge isn’t scheduled to open until sometime in the summer.