Guam- The island community is celebrating the completion of restoration work to a Spanish bridge in Agat that has existed for over 200 years as a passageway to Guam’s southern and northern villages.
The Talaifak Bridge Restoration Project is finally done after more than a year of preserving and restoring the historic structure. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning [Thursday] as island leaders and the Agat community gathered together for the event.
The $900 thousand dollar project was paid for by the Federal Highway Administration and the Guam Preservation Trust. Chief Program Officer Joe Quinata says original and similar materials were used to repair structural components of the bridge, but the area now includes landscaping, seating, lighting, railing and parking to accommodate tour buses.
He also clarifies the correct pronunciation for the name of the historic Spanish bridge is not “Ta-li-fak” but “Ta-lai-fak.”
“They tried to spell the Chamorro word in English and so what it did was it kind of altered the pronunciation,” said Quinata. “So if you look at the Chamorro word, the word you see now, you can pronounce it much better which is, ‘Ta-lai-fak.’”
Quinata says when the Guam Preservation Trust took on this project, they had two important goals in mind.
“One was to preserve the bridge and that is doing restoration work and the other one was to save the bridge,” said Quinata.
To save the bridge, Quinata notes the plans included diverting water flow from the current 3 barrel bridge away from the old bridge, which has a two barrel design. Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Carl Dominguez also says they did this by creating a culvert next to the historic site.
“Underneath where we’re standing on is a large culvert intended to divert as much water from the bridge so that during a storm event, the flood waters don’t damage the bridge any further,” said Dominguez.
Part of the restoration work for this project also included restoring a portion of the bridge that had fallen apart, as well as adding boulders around the shore line to break up the water flow and waves.
“That was the design work,” said Quinata. “That was the solution and we had great parties to accomplish the goal.”
Department of Chamorro Affairs President Joseph Cameron says the Spanish bridge was originally wooden, but was later fortified with the remnants of what we see now. He says this site touches many people because their relatives used it as a passageway since the 1700’s.
“It touches the lives of a lot of people actually because they actually know of their grandparents or great grandparents who had traversed in order to go into the rich historic city of Hagatna or vice versa, the historic district of Humatak or Malesso’,” said Cameron.
The Talaifak Bridge is one of two double barrel stone bridges in the Marianas that are still standing in the 21st century. The other bridge is located in Cella Bay.