NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur: The City Engineering Office and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have recommended the temporary closure of Colgante Bridge here for the Peñafrancia fluvial parade on September 17, saying the bridge is unfit to carry heavy load.
The recommendation was made to avoid a repeat of a fatal accident 44 years ago where more than 100 pilgrims and devotees died after the old bridge collapsed while the procession was in progress on September 15, 1972.
The 50-meter long Colgante Bridge linking Penafrancia Avenue and Barangay Dayandang was packed with pilgrims and devotees cheering and stomping while the fluvial procession was passing and gave way.
Rebecca Roces of the Camarines Sur 3rd District Engineering Office said they have recommended to the city government the putting up of a billboard prohibiting vehicles of more than five tons to pass the bridge and be totally closed pilgrims during the fluvial parade.
Roces added that the recommendation also called for immediate repair of the bridge through retrofitting, but the DPWH cannot extend fund assistance since it is owned by the city.
City Engineer Leon Palmiano 4th confirmed the DPWH findings, saying it was the same findings of their office and they already asked the Sangguniang Panlungsod for budget allocation for the repair of the bridge.
The annual feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia observed on September 1–22 attracts millions of devotees, as well as local and foreign pilgrims.
Last year, police said an estimated a crowd of 2.5 million watched a colorful military and civic parade and a fluvial procession.