Rev. Lindy Russell,
Cabinet and Parliamentary Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.
Today marks the end to a long and difficult chapter for the residents of Grand Bahama especially those who reside in West Grand Bahama.
The Fishing Hole Road Causeway connects West and East Grand Bahama Island and is the main access route between the West Grand Bahama communities and Freeport.
The original causeway was built in 1957 to facilitate commercial development around the Freeport Harbour.
Numerous Hurricanes have brought devastating storm surges which resulted in large sections of the road being washed away, making daily commuting an unbearable challenge for motorists, and impressed on the Government the great need for an urgent solution to this vexing problem.
In 2015, it was decided to award a contract for the design and construction of the Fishing Hole Road Causeway.
The aim of the project was to replace the existing Fishing Hole Road embankment with a raised causeway.
The contract with All Bahamas Construction was signed on the 18 December 2015.
The original funding was $7,208,943.37. The contract duration was originally for sixteen (16) months.
With the change of scopes the project required additional funding. The situation was exacerbated, due to the combination of a number of events, including but not limited to the delays and devastation caused by the past three major hurricanes, including Matthew in October 2016, Irma in 2017, and most recently Dorian in September 2019. Unfortunately residents were left to suffer through very difficult driving conditions.
Prior to Hurricane Dorian, the Fishing Hole Road Bridge was substantially completed and authorities were planning to officially open the bridge in September of 2019.
Even though, Hurricane Dorian did not affect the concrete bridge structure which was a testament to the quality of the works, the approach asphalt roads and side slopes were destroyed.
After witnessing the affect of Hurricane Dorian we decided to replace the asphalt roads with 8” thick reinforced concrete rigid pavement, and the side slopes and shoulders with 6” thick concrete making the whole structure more integral and climate resilient for future storm events.
Today, I am pleased that residents now have a modern designed, resilient, concrete Trestle Bridge, spanning 900ft across the Hawksbill creek with a life span of 50 years, sitting 12 feet above the mean sea level, and able to withstand hurricanes up to category 5 intensity.
The total cost of construction amounted to $9.2 million.
Allow me to recognize the many residents who have fought for many years to see the completion of this bridge.
I also want to thank the residents for their patience through this long and challenging process.
We thank successive governments who all have played a role in making today possible along with the contractor, All Bahamas Construction, for completing the project.
It is also appropriate to recognize the family of Bobby Tinker who perished during Hurricane Floyd.
I wish to commend residents for their compliance with the COVID-19 crisis which has resulted in the containment cases to 8.
Residents of Grand Bahama can look forward to even more capital works this year.
Work continues to progress on the Rand Memorial Hospital and we have allocated 21 million for improvements.
$4.5 million of work is now proceeding on 15 government schools which is one of the largest school restoration projects.
We will continue the Government’s small home repair program that has in 5 months approved approximately 2,000 residents and distributed over 3 million.
The Government has recently approved work on the Mcleans Town Administration building and the Ministry of Agriculture building downtown Freeport.
The Ministry of Works will also commence a major renovation of the Post Office and commence a major road restoration project in East, Central and West Grand Bahama.
We are also committed to finding a long term solution for the Grand Bahama International Airport.
Ladies and Gentlemen it now gives me great pleasure in declaring this Fishing Hole Road Causeway open.
May God bless you and may he continue to bless the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Thank you and good morning.