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Government vows to ensure Friendship Bridge safety

The government has been constantly carrying out “regular and necessary” maintenance and repairs on the Macau-Taipa Friendship Bridge, including the ongoing repairs to the support pedestals of the bridge.

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The Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) reaffirmed in a statement on Monday that the government has been constantly carrying out “regular and necessary” maintenance and repairs on the Macau-Taipa Friendship Bridge, including the ongoing repairs to the support pedestals of the bridge.

The statement also said that the bureau has introduced a structural health monitoring system (SHM) for the Friendship Bridge “in recent years”, which monitors its structural status 24/7, so that DSSOPT officials can “keep abreast of’ the bridge’s structural status and correspondingly carry out all the necessary maintenance and repairs on the bridge to ensure its structural safety.

According to a DSSOPT statement in July, the bureau introduced the structural health monitoring system for the Friendship Bridge and Sai Van Bridge in 2017, which monitors the structural status of the two bridges around the clock.

Monday’s statement came after a crack appeared on the connecting viaduct in front of the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal leading to the Friendship Bridge in the early hours of Sunday.

In a statement on Sunday, the bureau said that its officials received a report from the Public Security Police (PSP) at 12:15 a.m. on Sunday that there was a crack on the surface of the connecting viaduct outside the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. Sunday’s statement said that the crack did not affect the viaduct’s structural safety.

Repairs completed

The bureau carried out emergency repairs to the crack on Sunday night, during which the viaduct was closed to Taipa-bound traffic. According to local Chinese- language media reports, the repairs were completed at 12:30 a.m. Monday when the viaduct was reopened to traffic.

The Friendship Bridge, the second Macau-Taipa link, opened to traffic in 1994. The bridge has two connecting viaducts on the peninsula. One is the viaduct from Avenida da Amizade near the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, while the other is the one from the north-eastern coast of Areia Preta district.

According to Sunday’s statement, following the police report DSSOPT technicians went to the scene where they confirmed that as the viaduct’s abutment (substructure) and its main body have different types of structural support, after a long period of time the former is prone to have a larger settlement than the latter, thereby causing the crack discovered on Sunday on the viaduct’s road surface covered by asphalt in the area where the abutment and the main body are connected.

‘In good condition’

Sunday’s statement said that such a situation does not affect the viaduct’s structural safety, adding that the overall structure of the bridge is in good condition.

Concerning the height difference of the guard rail and the parapet in the area where the viaduct’s abutment and its main body are joined, Sunday’s statement said that the situation “has always existed”, which the bureau insisted does not affect “the normal use of the bridge”.

Sunday’s statement also said that following the emergency repairs, the bureau would later carry out the resurfacing of the road surface at the section where the crack appeared, as well as “repair the guard rail and the parapet” in the area.

Monday’s statement noted that while the viaduct’s abutment is connected to the ground through the filling of soil, its main body is supported by pillars, after a long period of time the former will have a larger settlement than the latter. The statement said that when the difference in the settlements of the two structures reaches a certain level, cracks are bound to appear on the viaduct’s road surface in the area where the abutment and the main body are connected.

‘Driving comfort’

Monday’s statement said that the bureau had previously noticed the situation of the different settlements of the viaduct’s two structures, adding that as the situation does not affect the viaduct’s structural safety and “the normal use of the bridge”, the bureau did not regard the tackling of the situation as a priority matter. The statement was quick to add that as the crack that appeared on the viaduct’s road surface had caused residents’ concern, the bureau, “in order to avoid any misunderstanding and allay public concerns”, decided to repair the crack first to ensure “driving comfort”.

The four-lane, 4.7-kilometre-long Friendship Bridge, the construction of which started in 1990 and was completed in 1994, is the longest of the city’s three Macau- Taipa bridges. The first bridge, the Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge (commonly known as the “Old Bridge”), is 2,570 metres long and came into use in 1974. The third bridge, the 2.2-kilometre-long Sai Van Bridge, opened to traffic in 2005.

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