Today in Transportation History – 2009: An International Bridge Opens

The Takutu River Bridge, which links the town of Lethem in Guyana with the municipality of Bonfim in Brazil was opened to traffic. Construction of the bridge was a project within the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA); this initiative had been launched in 2000 to promote and facilitate closer ties among the countries of South America.

More than six weeks after vehicles were first allowed to cross the Takutu Bridge, the new structure was officially inaugurated in a ceremony held in Bonfim. Both Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo attended the event, and they highlighted the economic benefits that the bridge made possible for each country. “This is a dream come true after more than a generation of anticipation,” proclaimed Jagdeo during his remarks.

The Takutu River Bridge is one of just a few junctions in the world in which people behind the wheel must quickly shift from driving on the left side of the road to driving on its right side in order to comply with the law and avoid potential head-on collisions. (In Guyana, people drive on the left side of the road while those traveling through Brazil must drive on the right side; the Takutu River Bridge, as a matter, of fact, marks the only land border in the Americas where vehicular traffic does need to change sides.) At the Takutu River Bridge, this conversion is accomplished not on the structure itself but rather the access road on the Guyanese side.  The road there divides in such a way that the right-hand-lane crosses over the left-hand-lane, making possible a readjustment that enables drivers in each direction to safely change sides.

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