Acrow Bridge, a leading international bridge engineering and supply company, has announced the recent installation of a permanent bridge in Sonprayag in the north Indian State of Uttarakhand, at the foot of the Himalaya. The remote site is extremely important as part of the route taken each year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world on the trek to the Kedarnath Temple, which is some 3,600 meters above sea level.
In June 2013, the middle of the pilgrimage season, a multi-day rainstorm centered on Uttarakhand caused devastating floods and landslides. Government figures cited more than 5,700 people dead or missing, with more than 100,000 airlifted to safety. Although the floods also caused extensive property damage in Uttarakhand, including the destruction of an existing bridge at Sonprayag, there was minimal damage to the temple. A quick but ultimately temporary bridge was soon erected at the site of the destroyed crossing, but was washed away on two occasions by floods, most recently in June 2015.
The Acrow structure was selected by the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project team along with the Indian infrastructure and project consultancy company Intercontinental Consulting and Technology Company (ICT) which is headed by Mr. Kiran Kumar Kapila, and funding provided by the World Bank. The 60 meter clear span bridge was customized with modular components to address local conditions. Unlike previous crossings, the new structure can take two lanes of traffic, allowing far more capacity for tourists and local residents alike. Since the bridge opened to traffic in May 2016 through the end of June, more than 250,000 pilgrims visited the temple at Kedarnath. The pilgrim season continues until early November each year with an anticipated half a million pilgrims expected to complete the trek to the temple this year.
In a remote and challenging location like Sonprayag, building an Acrow modular steel bridge on site is often the best option, since constructing a conventional bridge of a long length in-situ is most likely not feasible due to challenging topography. While conventionally constructed bridges would take more than 3 years to build, an Acrow steel span of any length can be operational in days with minimal construction machinery and using unskilled labor, which makes Acrow bridging ideally suited for installations in remote locations like Sonprayag. Additionally, such remote areas often have substandard road conditions which also make it difficult to transport heavy highway construction equipment or materials to the project site and do not allow safe maneuverability of the heavy weight of a prefabricated concrete structure or the length of a steel beam structure. In contrast, the modular Acrow components used for the Sonprayag bridge were shipped in standard ocean containers to Rishikesh, India and then delivered by highly compact and maneuverable trucks with a length of 6.5 meters.
“Acrow’s unmatched ability to provide emergency bridging solutions in challenging terrain is built on years of experience in creating and restoring transportation lifelines under extreme circumstances,” said Bill Killeen, President and CEO of Acrow Bridge. “For over 60 years, all over the world, Acrow has replaced bridges lost to natural catastrophes and man-made calamities and provided safe and secure crossings for the general public, commerce and emergency vehicles. It is a significant privilege to have our Acrow bridge at Sonprayag and to support and connect to each other the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on their journey to the Kedarnath Temple.”