Jucanya-Panajachel and the bridges in between

The Friendshipbridge, tuc tuc bridge and yellow bridge (puente Ubico) in Panajachel.

A report about the Panajachel bridge situation:

Update, Satuday 4th of September, 2020
Due to heavy rain fall Friday night the river took the gabiones protecting the Friendship bridge (ramp) on the Jucanya side. These were the reparations made in June, after Agatha took out the whole ramp. At the moment the bridge is exposed to the river.
Youtube Video:
More Youtube videos from September the 4th, Friendship Bridge in Panajachel. Videos provided by the lake atitlan video community.

Updates from 10th June to 1st July,

Well, it took a little but they got the friendship bridge ready. Problem was the ramp on the Jucanya side, Agatha took it and it did not speed things up when on the other side a part of the ramp collapsed revealing that the river also eat away the earth at the base of the ramp on this side of the bridge, almost completely. So they started the same repairs on both sides which was the second time for the ramp on the side of Panajachel. If i remember right the problem of the river taking away the earth at the base of the ramps started here in 2007, a few weeks or months after the friendship bridge opened. They had 2 chances to make it work, and it didn’t.

This time the first lady is “involved” in the work done here in Panajachel, which is good. I like her, but i am glad i aint working for her; she scares the shit out of me.  If i was the engineer or architect involved in the repair of the friendship bridge, she would give me sleepless nights worrying if the plan was absolutely okay. Maybe they actually were not that scared of her at all, but still, this time around, the repairs to the ramps of the friendship bridge look more solid. 

The Jucanya ramp is now protected by “Gabiones” that go about 2 meters into the ground and the area in between is filled with stones and pebbles. The wires used for the casings come in a variety of mixes (metals) and should be pretty corrosion resistant to water since the gabiones will be in contact with it much of the year. Another weak point might be the pillars at the middle of the bridge. They look so thin and these big rocks look capable of taking them down as if they were out bowling for a night.

Covial did well in my opinion. They hand casted the casings for the gabiones, were collecting the stones to fill them, one by one, in the river bed and then put it all together as to how the architect and engineers thought it out; and this during rains while living on chips and softdrinks that they bought across the street.

At the moment the three little bridges are out/gone. One of them, the tuk tuk bridge, could be up and running as soon as the river changes its path or the bridge itself gets extended.

Photo Gallery - Panajachel River protection

San Francisco River 16th of June 2010, Panajachel
San Francisco River 16th of June 2010, Panajachel
Friendship bridge 17th of June 2010, Panajachel
Machine creating temp. protection for the long term protection
Machine creating temp. protection for the long term protection
23th of June. The first wall is being relocated.
and they are making it higher, again
in general there were like a dozen of these at work every day
some of it is damaged now in July, they are repairing it
places that did not have sand walls lost 1-2 meters to the river in some cases
23th of June digging and shuffling
28th June, view from friendship to tuktuk which is up at this time
29th of June, clearing the rocks from the middle of the river
29th of June, clearing the rocks from the middle of the river
29th of June, clearing the rocks from the middle of the river
29th of June, clearing the rocks from the middle of the river
29th of June, view from Yellow bridge towards the lake
30th of June, view from the friendship to the damaged Tuk Tuk bridge
30th June, sand walls crumbling
1st of July, Tuk Tuk bridge with the river having changed its path to the right side
Sunny day
still a sunny day
1st July, view from friendship
1st July, view from Ubico (Yellow bridge)
La isla verde

Photo Gallery - Friendship bridge being repaired

15th June - Jucanya side. Gabiones being build up to the left and right.
15th June – and the middle being filled with rocks and pebbles
18th June – Sheets to prevent earth from begin flushed out
22nd June – repairs are on their way. Walkway is not available anymore.
22nd June - Filling materials
22nd June –dude posing
22nd June –dude smiling
23rd June – Friendship bridge, Jucanya side
23rd June – Friendship bridge, Jucanya side
28th June, the other side, Panajachel
28th June, trying to catch up on the Pana side
28th June – Friendship bridge, Panajachel side
28th June, friendship bridge, Panajachel
28th June – Yucanya side, concrete being placed
28th June – one part dry, the others drying. Cement makers being moved the other side
June 30th – One of the 2 small temporary bridges that got flushed out
 June 30th – Pana side. Protected from the rain
Gabiones run behind this damaged part
 Jucanya side, concrete dry and warm
 June 30th – river down the friendship bridge
 Vendedores de la costa
 June 30th – river down the friendship bridge
 June 30th – river down the friendship bridge
June 30th – Pana side. Protected from the rain
2 of the three friendship bridge pillars
July 1st – Panajachel side being finished off
Cement, cement, cement
 July 1st – Panajachel side being finished off
 July 1st – Panajachel side being finished off
July 1st – View towards tuktuk bridge.

Work is well on its way. Today (June 9th) i counted over 20 "Covial" workers at the friendship bridge. Preparing the "gabiones" that will be placed as foundation for the missing ramp. According to "el architecto" and "el enginero" there will be a wall of "gabiones" from the bridge to the road, on both sides. Those will be re-inforced with a concrete wall, also on both sides. In between it will be filled up, mostly with rocks. If everything workes out as planned, the Friendship bridge will be open for vehicles, the third week of July 2010, when the cement is really dry..

Friendship Bridge, PanajachelFriendship Bridge, work in progress, Panajachel
Friendship bridge repairs, June 9th 2010

friendship bridge June 12th 2010friendship bridge June 12th 2010
Friendship Bridge Panajachel, 12th June, 2010. RIGHT: You can see the structual damage to the pier and that the foundation could have been made deeper during last contruction. (structual damage seems to be a design fault)

At the moment, the friendship bridge is already open to pedestrians. Motor cyclers and TukTuks are making good use of the "TukTuk" bridge and for cars or other four wheelers, the only option is the Yellow bridge (Ubico).

Tenemos aceso de Jucanya a Panajachel por el viejo puente de hamaca, por Chinimaya.

From Chinimaya you have to walk the path behind the tienda for 15 meters upto the Caña fence, and take a left. You can only pass by foot, but you can "drag" your bike with you. The bridge got washed away in the second week of June, but is up and running for the moment. Since it is fairly small, chances are it will wash away again sometime.

bridge5TucTuc bridge, Panajachel, June 2010
Neighbours started work on repairing the "TukTuk" bridge last wednesday, 2nd of June. It is up and running since thursday morning. As of the 12th of June it is still up and very popular. Since this is the only way motorised vehicles (like the TukTuk's) can take a shortcut to or from Jucanya, this bridge now really _IS A TUKTUK_ bridge. In this photo 3 motors and 4 Tuktuk's (Right, Above) and one biker waiting for his chance. Later the police directed traffic from both sides so people on foot were able to cross without being bothered by motorized vehicles.
The hamaca bridge next to the Friendship bridge will not be repaired anytime soon, if at all.
Heavy machinery is working to try to keep the path of the river where it is. From behind the Yellow (Ubico) bridge are making a wall down towards the lake. Heavy machinery came in and started the work last wednesday, the 2nd of June. They are well on their way. It will give a sence of safety for Panajachel residens but it will not do us any good in case the river rises again. They are narrowing the river at some places, and by now we know that the river needs space, or a very good reinforced wall, like the one in place in Barrio Norte Panajachel, from the Yellow bridge down to the friendship bridge. On both sides they should extend it towards the lake. Or locations like "Las Manos" might be gone after a few more storms. Rivers need space, but a good wall, or old fashed "Dijk" will keep the river contained, 9 out of 10 times.
Pictures: Machines are now making the "sand walls" higher. For the river it is just as easy to "break" them down if you make them even higher. It cuts out from the base, and the vertical layer above will come down. 
Also: (Left, down), Part of the (old) protection wall, up in Barrio Norte, Panajachel. The river dug out part of the base here. What if the "sand wall" wears out right around this spot.
River protection June 12th 2010River protection June 12th 2010
Right, Above: Barrio Norte, river side. One of the risky places in Pana. Sooner or later the river will take it all..
River protection June 12th 2010, PanajachelRiver protection June 12th 2010, Panajachel
River protection June 12th 2010, PanajachelRiver protection June 12th 2010, Panajachel
bridge 3bridge2
Above on the right you see the protest from wednesday morning, 2nd of June. Neighbours on the Jucanya side of the bridge demanded running water now it is slowly coming back into other parts of town. Traffic was closed for some hours. As of this moment, 9th of June, water has still not returned in that area, 100's of families have been without it since the 30th of May and have not been able to clean their houses. Big water trucks keep coming and going to provide the minimal for washing dishes and clothing.
Following photos:
Left. People coming down from Chinimaya to access the temporary blue bridge that has replaced the hamaca bridge.
Right: Temporal access for pedestrians via an emergency walkway as replacement for the ramp. The Friendship Bridge in Panajachel.
ChinimayaTemporal pedestrian access on the friendship bridge, Panajachel, Solola
We'll just cycle on :)
Comments (6)
  • Linnet  - from Stan to Agatha

    cherishing all of you, securely in my heart ~ recalling the aftermath of Stan easily, since I was there too, and wishing you well, Linnet

  • Bear  - motos

    a minor adjustment is that I have not seen any motorcycles go across Friendship bridge this week, the steps there would make that very difficult.

  • Anonymous

    true, i dont feel confortable crossing with my bike, hard for pedestrians to cross so i wait my turn (most of the times). :P

  • Marco

    all the small bridges are not available at the moment. Just the new friendship bridge is open for both pedestrians as for traffic. (July 20th 2010)

  • soaringbear  - how long will it last?

    The gabions of friendship bridge force the river to narrow, thus serving as a partial dam, and anyone who thinks gabions can dam a river has a hole in their head. Considering the broken cement of some of the piers the June rebuild can only be considered temporary and I am surprised authorities allowed heavy vehicles to use it.

  • Sid  - River Mechanics

    While it's true that the river narrows at the Friendship Bridge, it's not in fact due to the gabions, but due to the actual width of the bridge itself, 44 meters… a width far narrower than the current width of the river as it continues its unobstructed destruction of the west side of the river including the city football field, easily worth $500,000… but who’s counting any more. Furthermore, their failure was due not to the ferocity or the strength of the river, but to the ignorance of the engineers.

    As a matter of note, I gave the engineer in charge of the job today one of my own books, "River Mechanics" which explains how and why curves in rivers accelerate the velocity of the water and make it dig… and what to do about it through calculating the forces involved. He's going to make a copy and translate it into spanish, but who's holding their breath?

    Simply put, the footings weren't deep enough. It's an engineering problem, not a "gabions can never control rivers" problem. As the wall opposite the football field shows… they can.

    Beyond that, if you notice on the west wall of the interior bridge abutment there is a significant pile of sand put there before the latest storm… and what's notable about that is that it’s still there. What that proves is that the “flood” didn’t even fill the 44 meters of the channel (!), but was concentrated on the east side after it bounced out of the curve created on the opposite bank on its way from destroying the municipal well and the basketball court... but again, who's counting?

    It’s an absence of intelligence, not an abundance of water that is the problem here. If water were not able to be controlled, the Dutch nation would not exist.

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