Extended bridge opening could be less than two hours on Friday, May 3

The extended bridge opening for Friday, May 3 from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, could be less than two hours St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies (SMHG) Management said on Thursday.

The extended opening could be less than two hours on Friday and every effort will be made to keep the bridge opening as short as possible. Emergency service vehicles (Ambulance, Fire Department and Police) have been given permission by the French authorities to use French territory in order to reach the Western side of the country via the Cupecoy/Low Lands route in the event of an emergency.

All stakeholders should have informed their employees and hotel guests, about the bridge opening. The extended bridge opening is in connection with the arrival and transit through the draw bridge by the cargo vessel Marietje Andrea carrying the Causeway Swing Bridge.

Notification Boards have already been placed at strategic points notifying motorists about the extended bridge opening on May 3.

Night-time transition of the cargo vessel into the Lagoon is not feasible for a number of reasons. Firstly, during the day time its high tide and this would contribute to the safe transit of the vessel into the Lagoon; secondly, from a safety perspective, daylight allows for all coordinators to have a bird’s eye view when the vessel moves through the draw bridge which leaves very little room for error because there will only be 80 centimetres of clearance between the vessel and both sides of the bridge.

Management of the Harbour Group of Companies regrets any inconvenience that this extended bridge opening will cause and expresses its apologies to all stakeholders. At the same time, the harbour group would like to thank all those to date who are playing a critical role in making this transit safe and incident free.

The 126 meter long (413 feet) cargo transport vessel Marietje Andrea is 15 meters wide (49 feet) and has a gross tonnage of 5418. The longest vessel to ever enter the Simpson Bay Lagoon is the 96 meter (316 feet) mega yacht Limitless. The Andrea is almost 100 feet longer than the Limitless.

The Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority Corporation, is a subsidiary of SMHG, and has an advisory role with respect to Simpson Bay and the Simpson Bay Lagoon.