By: Kathryn Campbell / Bahamas Information Services
Jubilant Abaconians watched with pride as a ribbon was cut and a plaque unveiled to signal the formal reopening and renaming of the bridge that connects Great Abaco and Little Abaco. More than two years ago, Hurricane Dorian destroyed Little Abaco Bridge resulting in a separation of the islands for the first time in 70 years. Renamed Angel Fish Creek Bridge, the longest single-span bridge ever built in The Bahamas was officially commissioned at a ceremony Friday, March 18, 2022.
Former Prime Ministers Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie were among those witnessing this important milestone. Also present were: Bacchus Rolle, John Pinder, Parliamentary Secretaries; Desmond Bannister, former Minister of Works and Utilities; Senator Darren Henfield, former Member of Parliament; Alvin Smith, former Speaker of the House; David Davis, Luther Smith, Permanent Secretaries; clergy, Local Government practitioners, island administrators and a cross-section of the community.
Participants included Terrece Bootle, Sr. Deputy Administrator; Kirk Cornish, Parliamentary Secretary and students of primary and senior high schools.
The $5,340,217 project was executed through collaboration between public and private sector partners. Designed by Deputy Director Robert Mouzas, and built by Stephan and Mark Knowles, Long Islanders, of SJK Engineering and Construction Services Limited, the super structure spans 256 ft., is a sturdy, steel truss, ideal for withstanding storm conditions and features boat ramp solar street lighting. The Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities remarked, “From a culvert, to a causeway to a bridge, but not any ordinary bridge, a bridge that was designed to meet the challenges of global warming. A bridge that does not sit in the water, but the foundations are on the side of the water; a bridge which opens to the creek so that the marine life, which for past decades had difficulty traversing the mangroves, could freely pass under the bridge.
“Also in this historic fishing community, a bridge which allows navigation — not only navigation but also has a ramp so those persons who would historically launch their craft would be able to launch their boats into the creek. A bridgethat also allows pedestrian and vehicular [movement]; a bridge which is the template of how we must build for the future. It is a template for small island nation states prepared for global warming.”
He acknowledged Mr. Mouzas, and Mr. Knowles, who, he said, built a bridge of which all could be proud, and inspired. In keynote remarks, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said the opening of the bridge is a major step towards normalcy for the people of Abaco.
“The greatest benefit of this new design is the fact that water will now be able to flow underneath the bridge, which means that boats will be able to navigate under the bridge with a clearance of 12 ft., which also means that for the first time in over 70 years marine life will be able to travel through this channel which should provide access to the mangroves, shallow water, nursery systems for local species to flourish and enter. Safe and easy passage of vehicles and boats will prove to be a boon for the recovering Abaco economy.
“In just a few days the surrounding water changed from a stagnant, dark green color to a beautiful aquamarine reminiscent of the Bahamian Flag. People are now sporting a variety of fish species, turtles and sharks in the area. Fishermen are now benefiting from this increase in the local marine population. What an excellent example of environmentally conscious building. This bridge is testament is to the fact that we can make progress while coexisting with the local species and natural habitat,” said the Prime Minister.
More photo highlights below: