Valaichena (Oddamavadi) Road-Rail Bridge – වාලච්චේන (ඔඩ්ඩමාවඩි) පැරණි පාලම

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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 Valachchana Bridge) built in 1924 across the Valaichchenai lagoon in the eastern province.

The Manampitiya road-rail Bridge is the first to be built and was a constructed with and spans 690 feet 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 Valaichena Road-Rail Bridge was constructed by the British in 1924 just 2 years after the Manampitiya Bridge. This bridge was built across the Batticaloa Lagoon allowing both trains and vehicle traffic. This bridge is wider than the Manampitiya Bridge and was just wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

The rail track lies on the middle of the road thus the vehicular traffic has to be stopped for trains to pass. So if you are unlucky enough, this was one of the only 2 places in Sri Lanka where your vehicle could 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.

The eastern province was under the LTTE control for almost 30 years until they were defeated in 2009.  Until then this unique bridge was hidden from the general public other than the tamil population who was free to travel to and from this area. The rail service too had ceased to operate after Polonnaruwa  long ago with the iron tracks and the wooden slippers being removed by the LTTE Terrorists for the construction of bunkers.

After the liberation of the country from this menace Northern and Eastern areas have been developing at rapid pace and the all damaged and destroyed infrastructure has been built within only 2-3 years. The rail road was completely re- layed up to Batticaloa and train services resumed.

With the liberation of these areas there was a major increase in traffic over these bridges. Therefore a new 250 meter long road bridge was constructed in parallel to this last road-rail bridge and it was declared open in 2010 . This 85 year old last operational road-rail road bridge of Sri Lanka was turned in a rail bridge ending the last unique opportunity of driving on a rail track for the Sri Lankan drivers.

Also See

Map of  the Valaichena (Oddamavadi) Road-Rail Bridge

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Traveling Directions to Valaichena (Oddamavadi) Road-Rail Bridge

Route from Colombo to Valaichena (Oddamavadi) Road-Rail Bridge

Route from Batticaloa to Valaichena (Oddamavadi) Road-Rail Bridge

Though : Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Habarana – Polonnaruwa – Kaduruwela – Manampitiya
distance : 281 km
Travel time : 5.30 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Chenkaladi – Oddamavadi
distance : 33 km
Travel time : 30 mins
Driving directions : see on google map