On April 23, 1650, meters of Padma Bridge became visible with the installation of its 11th span at Jajira point. People have always pondered what dreams are made of. For Bangladeshis, dreams are made of concrete and steel, Padma bridge is an aspiration borne out of hope. Officially named as The Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge, it is multipurpose in every sense of the word. The road-rail bridge will connect the South-West of the country to North and Eastern regions across the third largest river in the world; it will also change the socio-economic condition of millions. The bridge will connect our economically deprived Southwest to Dhaka and other developed regions. It will transform the agriculture sector in the South-West region as they can reach Dhaka faster at a much cheaper cost. Soon to become the 25th longest railroad bridge in the world, it will help to push Bangladesh’s GDP by 1.2% helping it to achieve per capita income of 2000$ by 2020. The figures might appear fictional to many, but there is substantial ground behind the forecast. The bridge is expected to have a profound impact on the 30 million-plus people living in the southwest and accelerate economic growth in the country as a whole. By reducing the distance to major urban areas like Dhaka by over 100km, the bridge will facilitate regional trade; reduce poverty while accelerating growth and development in the country as a whole. Once considered as the most challenging construction projects in the history of our country, the Padma bridge faced a lot of challenges even before the construction began. The pessimists were sure about the project being a failure; the critics are becoming quieter as Bangladesh’s future takes shape.
PADMA Bridge at a glance:
– The Padma River is the third largest river in the world and has the largest volume of sediment transport.
– 6.15 kilometres (3.8 miles) in length, the Padma Bridge is a landmark structure and one of the longest river crossings in the world.
– The two-level steel truss bridge will carry a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single track railway on a lower level.
– The multipurpose bridge also has many utilities built into it, including a gas pipeline, telecommunications, and a high-voltage power transmission line. Additionally, it has emergency access points in order to facilitate the evacuation of a train on the lower deck.
– Operating Level Earthquake has a return period of 100 years with a 65 percent probability of being exceeded during that period. Contingency Level Earthquake has a return period of 475 years with a 20 percent probability of being exceeded during a 100-year bridge life period. Any damage sustained from such an earthquake would be easily detectable and capable of repair without demolition or component replacement. (Structure Magazine)
– The bridge lies on the Dhaka-Kolkata (India) link and will form an integral part of the Asian Highway and Euro-Asian Railway network systems.
– It is situated at the best location to form an international transport network – Asian Highway. If a railway provision on the bridge is effectively connected with the existing railway network, it can contribute to the formation of a multi-modal international transport network for the Eastern Region of India.
– Travel time between the southern districts and Dhaka will be cut by 100 km.
– The future traffic volume is estimated to be 41,550 vehicles/day in 2025.
*Photography by Din Muhammad Shibly