Kalurghat Bridge an old bridge, once the only link between the southern region of chittagong division on the bank of the river karnafuli with the rest of the country. This 239m long bridge was installed as a simple rail bridge of steel structure between Janalihut and Gomdandi railway stations in 1930. The bridge was commissioned for operation of trains in Chittagong-Dohazari section in the year 1931. Thirty-one years after its inauguration, considering the suffering of the people it was modified with decking and carpeting and turned into a rail and road-bridge in 1962.
British engineers constructed it with 13 different types of spans that include one 45.72m steel girder, twelve 30.48m under-slung ones, five pieces of 24.38m and a single 12.19m deck type span and twelve 4.88m joists. It has an approach of 171m length at Chittagong end and 150m at the Dohazari end.
With a road space of only 3.05m the bridge was opened to the traffic allowing vehicles having a maximum load of 10 tons within a restricted maximum speed of 16 km per hour to provide an interim service until the construction of a road bridge. Since then the bridge served as a vital road link for 27 years till the Karnafuli Bridge (Shah Amanat Bridge) was constructed over the river Karnafuli in 1989. Shah Amanot Bridge brought about a great change in the communication shortening both the distance and time needed for the journey. But within ten years of its opening the bridge was closed for heavy vehicles as its wooden deck cracked and became worn out at many places.
The people now travel through the narrow Kalurghat Bridge. Besides, one-way traffic along the bridge creates an unbearable congestion of vehicles on both the ends of the bridge where the travellers have to wait one to two hours in long queues to cross the bridge alone. To minimise the trouble Chittagong City Corporation introduced a ferry service on the Karnafuli river at Firingi Bazar near the Shah Amanat Bridge in February 2001 at a cost of Taka 38 million. But the ferry service could be offered only two times a day during the high tides and to ferry 30 vehicles only it takes five trips.
Bangladesh Railway (BR), the owner of the Kalurghat Bridge, leases it out every year to earn revenue that stood at over Tk 10 million in the auction of 2002 for the use of road transportation. Bangladesh Railway has two other such rail and road-bridges, one on the river tista in lalmonirhat and the other on the river Kanchan in dinajpur, both in the western zone of the country. Though smaller in size when compared with those two, BR finds this bridge in its eastern zone as the most important one in terms of utility and revenue earning.
The Bangladesh Railway had already taken a project for extending the Chittagong-Dohazari railway section up to the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar. In this connection, the authority is actively thinking for the renovation and expansion of the bridge. [Masud Hasan Chowdhury]
See map in chittagong district.