The First Road-Rail Bridge of Sri Lanka at Manampitiya (මනම්පිටිය පැරණි පාලම)

RATE THIS LOCATION :1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (46 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)

Road-Rail bridges are bridges shared by trains as well as motor vehicles. These can be as complex as rail road going over or under the paved vehicle road to as simple as a railway line running on the center of road.

Sri Lanka has the distinction of having 2 unique road-rail bridges in the early 20th century. The first one was built at Manampitiya over the Mahaweli River in 1922 connecting  North Central Province with Batticaloa  and the second such road-rail bridge was  Oddamavadi Bridge (also known as the Valachchanai Bridge) built in 1924 across the Valaichchenai lagoon in the eastern province.

The Manampitiya road-rail Bridge is completely built from iron and spans 296 meters across the Mahaweli River. The bridge is the only access point between Eastern Province and Central Province for about 80 km of the river.

The new bridge across Mahaweli River at Manampitya
The new bridge across Mahaweli River at Manampitya

Manampitiya Road-Rail Bridge is a fairly long but a narrow bridge. The width of the bridge is approximately 4.5 meters and the rail road is built in the center of the bridge. The great Mahaweli River runs over 50 meters below the Bridge. But during heavy rain, the water level of the river climbs above the bridge level flooding the whole area of Manampitiya.

Being such a narrow bridge, there is no room for two vehicles to pass, so any vehicle crossing the bridge have to wait till all the traffic passes on the opposite direction. But the most significance feature of this bridge is the railway track running right on the center of the road. So if you are unlucky enough, this was one of the only 2 places in Sri Lanka where your vehicle can come face to face with a train with nowhere to go. But fortunately this bridge was manned by the Sri Lankan Army and two army check points on both sides controlled both rail and motor vehicle traffic.

This marvel served the Sri Lankan motorists for over 85 year and in 2007, a new bridge was constructed in parallel for motor traffic. At the time of opening, it was the longest bridge in Sri Lanka with a length of 302 meters and a width of 10.4 meters.

Since then first road-rail in Sri Lanka was converted back to being a plain old railway bridge.

Also See

Map of  the Manampitiya Road-Rail Bridge

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් – Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map –

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Traveling Directions to Manampitiya Road-Rail Bridge

Route from Colombo to Manampitiya Road-Rail Bridge Route from Batticaloa to Manampitiya Road-Rail Bridge
Through : Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Habarana – Polonnaruwa – Kaduruwela – Manampitiya
Distance : 230 km
Travel time : 5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Chenkaladi – Oddamavadi
Distance : 84 km
Travel time : 1.15 mins
Driving directions : see on google map


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *