Sangupiddy Bridge, also known as Changkupiddy Bridge, is a remarkable road bridge that spans the Jaffna Lagoon in northern Sri Lanka. This vital structure serves as a lifeline, connecting Sangupiddy in Kilinochchi District with Karaitivu in Jaffna District. Notably, it plays a pivotal role in uniting the densely populated Jaffna Peninsula with the mainland.
British Colonial Era
In the annals of history, the roots of Sangupiddy Bridge reach back to July 1932 during British colonial rule. Ambitious plans were hatched to construct a causeway, named the Mahadeva Causeway, across the shallow waters of the Jaffna Lagoon. This causeway was envisioned to link Sangupiddy, situated near Poonakari, with Karaitivu, located near Navatkuly. However, implementing these plans faced strong opposition from local fishermen and salt producers, leading to incomplete realization. Despite this, the partially built causeway remained in use by the local populace until the eruption of the civil war disrupted their movement.
Rebirth After Conflict: A Bridge Emerges
The aftermath of the civil war brought new possibilities. In December 2009, plans were resurrected to build a bridge on the very site of the erstwhile causeway. The Sri Lankan Ministry of Ports and Highways commissioned an Atlas-type bridge from the British company Mabey and Johnson. Initially intended for a flyover at the Panadura junction in Colombo, destiny intervened as this bridge found its purpose as the Sangupiddy Bridge. The construction journey began in April 2010, with the erection of the 7-span bridge commencing in September of the same year. Access Engineering, a distinguished Sri Lankan company, carried out the project. Eight months of dedicated effort culminated in the formal inauguration of the bridge on 16 January 2011.
The Ingenious Structure
The Sangupiddy Bridge stands tall and proud, a testament to human innovation. Stretching across the lagoon, this two-lane bridge spans 288 meters in length and 7.35 meters in width. The bridge boasts a steel girder structure and an ante steel deck system, all supported by a robust reinforced cement concrete structure with pile foundations. Its creation was made possible through a soft loan extended by the British Government's Steel Bridge Program, underlining the spirit of international collaboration.
A Vital Connection
Before the Sangupiddy Bridge's existence, the only road linking the Jaffna Peninsula with the mainland was situated at Elephant Pass. The introduction of this bridge revolutionized connectivity, significantly reducing the travel distance between southern Sri Lanka and Jaffna by an impressive 110 kilometres (68 miles) or three hours. This transformation has eased the movement of people and fostered economic and social growth in the region.
The Journey to Sangupiddy
Visiting the Sangupiddy Bridge is a journey filled with anticipation and wonder. The bridge is easily accessible, with various transport options available from Jaffna town. Situated around 20 kilometres from the town centre, visitors can opt for a bus, tuk-tuk, or private vehicle to reach this historical landmark. Upon arrival, a stroll across the bridge offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in its splendid vistas and absorb the rich tapestry of its history.