THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will build a taller, longer and stronger bridge to replace the Caraycaray Bridge in Biliran province, which was destroyed by Typhoon Urduja last December.

Biliran’s lone district Representative Rogelio Espina said, a study is being done for a new bridge design that could withstand natural calamities, to be released in two months so the project could proceed in the first semester of the year.

“We don’t know how much the required budget is since the study is still ongoing. But we’ve been informed that the bridge project is very expensive, with an estimated cost of PHP1 million per meter,” Espina told reporters on Friday.

Caraycaray Bridge was 130 meters long before it collapsed due to massive flooding brought by “Urduja” in December 2017. The replacement bridge could be longer as the river has changed its course.

The bridge, which forms part of the major highway, is a vital infrastructure to get to Biliran’s provincial capital of Naval from Leyte’s provincial capital of Tacloban City.

While visiting Biliran last week, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar announced the building of a detour bridge across Caraycaray Bridge while waiting for the completion of the permanent structure. The 45-meter temporary bridge will cost PHP4.76 million.

“This will reduce the travel time of heavy vehicles from Biliran town to Naval from two-and-a-half hours to 30 minutes,” said DPWH-Biliran chief David Adongay.

Load restrictions for the damaged bridge force heavy vehicles to take the 90-kilometer route around the circumferential road.

“The government has to speed up the construction of the new bridge to bring (down) the cost of goods in Biliran province. For instance, a sack of rice is Php200 higher in Naval than in Leyte,” Adongay added.

Caraycaray Bridge is categorized by DPWH as an old bridge, since it was built 40 years ago without major rehabilitation. (PNA)