Goa government pledges to restore 400-year-old ‘Ponte de Linhares’ stone bridge - Hindustan Times
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Goa government pledges to restore 400-year-old ‘Ponte de Linhares’ stone bridge

ByGerard de Souza
Aug 02, 2023 07:40 PM IST

Ponte de Linhares was built in 1633–34 and is often said to have been the longest in the world at 3.2 km (2.0 miles) when completed in 1634. The bridge, which runs along the flood plains of the Mandovi River, connects Ribandar to the city of Panjim

The Goa government has said it will restore the nearly 400-year-old stone bridge originally built to carry horse carriages but has since been repurposed to carry traffic after a legislator highlighted its run-down state.

400-year-old Ponte de Linhares is a 3.2 km (2.0 mi) long causeway connecting Ribandar to the main city of Panjim (Twitter Photo)
400-year-old Ponte de Linhares is a 3.2 km (2.0 mi) long causeway connecting Ribandar to the main city of Panjim (Twitter Photo)

Replying to a calling attention motion in the Assembly, minister of public works Nilesh Cabral said the “Ponte de Linhares” built in 1633–34 will be restored “back to its original glory, of which every Goan will be proud of.”

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Ponte de Linhares was built in 1633–34 and is often said to have been the longest in the world at 3.2 km (2.0 miles) when completed in 1634. The bridge, which runs along the flood plains of the Mandovi River, connects Ribandar to the city of Panjim.

Cabral said soil erosion has been taking a toll on the bridge in the 1980s and to prevent erosion, he said, planting of mangrove trees on the southern bank of the river was undertaken by the forest department.

“The bridge had been damaged due to continuous tidal motion in 2011 and 2014. To prevent it from further damage, construction of a protective wall was initiated by the Goa Public Works Department (PWD),” said the minister.

In order to prevent further damage, the PWD diverted the movement of heavy vehicles from Panaji to Old Goa, Cabral said, adding speed restrictions were also imposed to slow down vehicles.

“Over the decades, however, the passages under the 40 archways have been blocked due to siltation,” he said.

According to a department report, a large mud flat has accreted along the riverfront and this clay deposit is advancing further into the river.

“A close look at the base of the walls on either side indicates that the roots of the mangroves are interfering with and have penetrated the base and consequently the foundations of the causeway. It is probably one of the reasons why the roadway is becoming weak and appearing to be collapsing or sinking. At a particular place, dense mangroves have entirely engulfed the ancient bridge over a stretch of 460 metres,” the minister said.

“I have directed my department to have a periodical structural review of the said bridge and if there is a slightest doubt of its structural stability, the bridge shall be further closed for commercial vehicles as well as local buses. Being a heritage bridge, a proper and scientific approach ought to be taken involving renowned experts to decide on the methodology to be adopted in the restoration, so that no trial and error methods are adopted,” the public works minister said in his reply.

In November 2021, half a metre section of the causeway had sunk which was later repaired. The following year in August 2022, one lane of the causeway was shut down after the base under an archway was corroded.

The bridge continues to be in use today with light passenger and commercial vehicles using it while the state has banned heavy vehicles and has also imposed a speed limit.

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