The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is concluding landscaping works to a section of the environs of the historic Cast Iron Bridge in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
The scope of works which commenced in November 2015 included a major sanitization drive and culminated with the landscaping of the area. The area now features a series of steps, lined with palm trees, partially leading down to the Rio Cobre River. Stepping stones were also installed, while the section sloping down towards the river has been terraced and planted with Khus-khus and Red Fountain grass to minimize soil erosion. The UDC will continue with maintenance activities through to December 2016.
The project cost, which is approximately $ 5.3 million Jamaican Dollars inclusive of maintenance, is being covered with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund. It is expected to contribute significantly to an enhanced viewing experience for both locals and tourists, who visit the Spanish Town Heritage Trail.
The current landscaping was initiated in tandem with previous civil works done to the kerb and roadway approaching the Burke Road entrance to the bridge. The project is one phase of a wider multi-agency effort to restore and preserve key elements of Jamaica’s history which form the Spanish Town Heritage Trail. The entities involved are the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), UDC, Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) and the St. Catherine Parish Council.
Being the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, the Cast Iron Bridge holds major historical value and is intricately woven into the history of Spanish Town. It was designed by British Engineer Thomas Wilson, and partially prefabricated in Britain in 1801. Its prefabricated parts were then shipped to Jamaica and mounted on its cut stone abutments in 1802.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust declared the bridge a national monument and due to deterioration it was once on the UNESCO’s list of endangered world sites. Efforts to preserve the structure began in 2004 and are projected to continue with phased sanitization and beautification of the nearby river banks.
Other aspects of the overall project include the rehabilitation of the Emancipation Square; upgrade to the Jamaica People’s Museum and the rehabilitation of the façade and portico of Old King’s House. To this end the UDC is currently finalizing the renovation of the People’s Museum and in coming months will undertake electrical works in the park at Emancipation Square. The completed works are expected to increase tourism-related opportunities in Spanish Town, while preserving the unique heritage, and improving the aesthetics of the island’s first capital.
For further information, please contact
The Corporate Relations Department
Urban Development Corporation
12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston Mall
September 7, 2016