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Leading News from Sri Lanka::

* Sri Lanka President opens the new Mannar Bridge
Thu, Mar 18, 2010, 07:09 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 18, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa today ceremoniously opened the bridge that links the Mannar Island to the main land. Mannar Island, situated in the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka's Northern Province is linked to the main land by a causeway.

The old bridge was destroyed during the war between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lanka Army renovated the bridge at a cost of Rs. 2.46 billion. The construction of the bridge which commenced three years ago was funded by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The new bridge spanning 157.1 meters in length and 10.4 meters in width has been constructed with two lanes of carriageway and sidewalks on the Medawachchiya - Mannar - Thalaimannar (A 14) Road. The causeway has been extended up to 3.14 km in length and 11.0 m width comprising two lanes of carriageway, Road Development Authority sources said.

The old bridge and causeway which connect the Mannar Island and the mainland were constructed in 1930s with a narrow single lane. It was the only access road to the Mannar Island from the mainland until the new bridge was opened.

Mannar Bridge was damaged due to a terrorist bomb blast in 1990 and it was restored with a narrow temporary steel bailey bridge and was restricted for heavy vehicles of over 10 tons.

The Road Development Authority under the supervision of the Highways and Road Development Ministry has implemented the Project.

Around 50,000 people living in Mannar Island directly benefit by this project. It is also expected to improve the market approachability via facilitating transportation at a low cost.

Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Kunio Takahashi, Minister Risath Bathiyutheen, and Secretary to the Highways and Road Development Ministry, Admiral (Retd) Wasantha Karannagoda also participated in the opening ceremony.

(Pictures by Sudath Silva)

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