Construction work of the second stage of the Island Bridge project is ahead of schedule. However, at the same time, residents complain about the organization of traffic for pedestrians and cyclists.
Riga City Council’s officials visited the bridge on July 31 to overlook progress with construction. As the delegation was told by Riga City Council Transport Department director Vitalijs Reinbahs, work was commenced in June 2018 and should be concluded by June 2020, and there were no concerns about possible delays, because all work was performed quickly.
Construction manager of the construction company in charge – SIA ACB and Tilts – Armands Svikis says that work is progressing quickly and that it is planned to finish more work this year than previously planed.
“If weather does not betray us, we could finish 90% of work by October. The monetary flow is also used more quickly than the schedule demands it. This means we will have to negotiate division of funds with the city council,” said Svikis.
Next year it is planned to perform asphalt-laying in certain portions of the bridge.
As for complaints from residents in regards to the organization of traffic and accessibility of the environment surrounding the construction zone, Svikis proposed keeping in mind that what residents use is a construction site and should deal with certain inconveniences for the time being.
“Under normal circumstances this territory should have been closed down completely, but we have managed to organize everything in a way that allows us to move forward with construction and also meet safety regulations. We checked every week by Latvian State Roads and transport organization expects. So far we have received no warnings regarding any violations,” said the expert, adding that the site had several hundred traffic signs.
City for People association’s activists Maris Jonovs and Kaspars Zandbergs criticize the construction company, saying that although road traffic has been organized, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists are forgotten.
“Looking at publications on social media, we can see that residents often have to pass through rubble and bounce back and forth against barriers with no directions of where they should go. Everything may look good on paper, but no one has tried to actually use these routes in practice. A construction site is a dangerous place that requires special care to ensure safety, but here we see people getting blasted and blamed when concrete falls on their heads,” says Jonovs, noting that the central side, for example, has only one sign and even city council representatives have no idea what the image on it means.
According to the activists, the construction company in charge should set up proper signs and add asphalt surface to certain walkways to provide residents with a safe place to walk on. Otherwise people will simply look for other, more dangerous alternatives.
“People sometimes try to walk on the drive-way, walk around and seek other ways of passage,” Jonovs explains.
The construction company defends itself by saying that they do not have the right to set up more transport solutions than what is covered by the project. No side involved in the project could tell why additional solutions were not included in the project. The only explanation given is that more thought was put into organizing the flow of vehicles.
In regards to construction work, Reinbahs offered some criticisms to the overall quality, commenting that the sides had not been affixed properly, which could result in them falling apart more quickly in the future. Certain mixtures have also been found in the soil of the green zone – glass, rocks and the like.
“This needs to be fixed so that grass is able to grow normally. We have made an account of all of these problems and we intend to have them fixed, because they could significantly affect the quality of life if left unchecked,” said the department’s leader.
SIA Geo Consultants construction supervisor Juris Ozols confirms that construction work is performed in accordance with the project. He said no major violations had been noted in the work performed by the construction company. According to Ozols, environmental accessibility is satisfactory. (BNN/Business World Magazine)