British era iron bridge across Kollidam - components are to be reused to build bridges at two places in Trichy city

Trichy city old kollidam  british-era steel

The historical  narrow old cast iron bridge across the river Cauvery in the City of Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, S. India has long been neglected by  the corporation authorities and also by the party in power in the state. Though historians and heritage lovers  cried hoarse and requested the authorities to preserve the British-era cast-iron steel bridge, neither the city corporation nor the ruling government took any step to save the bridge that faced threats every year during the NE Monsoon seasons. The heritage bridge had already become structurally weak due to official apathy and total lack of interest in historical  structures. 

Abandoned old British-era

Trichy Uyyakondan channel,

The 792 meter long cast iron steel bride is set on  well-built  24 -stone piers across the Kollidam river  during the colonial period in 1928.  It used to  connect the No 1 toll gate in Srirangam and until 2014 it was an important bridge connecting the city with places like Chennai, Salem etc. When the new bridge came up, initially  pedestrians and cyclists  found the old bridge useful and over a period of time after 2016 it fell  into disuse due to  lack of care and maintenance. Its stability was in question! In August 2022  because of heavy flow of water and strong water current in the Cauvery river coupled with torrential rains the 17 th pier of the damaged Kollidam  steel bridge  in disuse caved in. This made the historian furious. 

The old steel bridge is in a state of ruins. reason:  there is  a  broader and  modern bridge parallel to the old one built several years ago. The old bridge, connecting the temple island of Srirangam, was narrow and could not handle heavy  vehicular  traffic that also grew along with the city population.  Since the opening of the new bridge, the old bridge has been put in the cold storage  and there was no semblance any basic  maintenance work  such as repairs on the stone piers, painting on the girders, etc.  Sustained carelessness  impacted the surdy bridge very much and the cast iron beams, etc in many places   began to rust and the look of the bridge turned sour and structurally became weak. Dilapidation had already set in some part of the bridge and further wonton negligence might make the bridge fall  apart over a period of time.  If the point of no redemption  is reached the legacy of the Raj in this part of the city will be lost for ever. It means from historical perspective it will be irreparable loss  if the remnant of the Raj is not  preserved for the posterity. 

In January  2023 a  decision was made to use the components of the British-era  abandoned steel bridge across the Kollidam  to reconstruct steel bridges at two places  across Uyyakondan, Trichy. The components of the iron bridge  are to  be dismantled by the state highways department and are to be reused to connect the banks of .of the Chola-era Uyyakondan  canal for non-motorised transport. 

The positive aspects of this significant decision by the officials are  restoring and saving the remnants of the colonial cast-iron bridge   and to fulfill the aspirations of the citizens of the city who want the iron bridge saved for good and not to be remelt or sold as scarps.  Accordingly, the District Administration has instructed the corporation to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the PWD to construct bridges at two spots -   Raja Colony and Anna Nagar link road. Trichy corporation will request the district administration to reuse  two sets of trusses and connecting components of the Kollidam bridge that was built in 1928 to connect banks of Uyyakondan. 

In October 2020 the public opinion wa not in favor of dismantling the iron bridge.  Residents said the  old  narrow bridge could be strengthened and utilised as an exclusive public space for  walkers, as the city has very limited public space for leisure activities. Rehabilitation of the old bridge is a way aiming at conservation of the heritage structure, a vestige of colonial era.