Historical Arenas Bridge – One of Puerto Rico’s First Highways
Puerto Rico is a beautiful country with a lot of great things to see and do and you likely already have an idea of what attractions you plan to visit whilst in the country. However, some attractions are somewhat smaller and less interesting and make a better quick stop than the focal point of the entire excursion. Such is the case with the Arenas Bridge which makes for the perfect distraction whilst traveling from Caguas and Cayey. The bridge itself is not terribly exciting but it has interesting historical significance and is the perfect place to break your trip while traveling from the coast to the central mountains of the country.
The Arenas Bridge was built during the Spanish Colonial period and it has gained fame as being the longest span bridge built in Puerto Rico during this period. It was designed by Mariano Sichar and built in 1894 by Nicrisse and Decluve who was a prominent Belgian firm at the time. It cost 56 211 pesos to have the built bridge whereupon it was shipped to Puerto Rico aboard the Teutonia steamboat. The bridge was made from 23 623 pounds of steel and this was fitted on stone abutments that were constructed while Puerto waited for the arrival of their new bridge. The bridge was assembled under the supervision of Julio Larrinaga and before long, opened to the public.
The Arenas Bridge forms part of the Carretera Central which was the first highway in Puerto Rico to convey travelers to the mountains in the central part of Puerto Rico. It measures a distance of 1.3 kilometers and spans the Plata River. It is still very much in use today and visitors often choose to use the bridge as they head towards Puerto Rico’s more mountainous areas. Today you will find this bridge on PR-735 where it has stood the ravages of time very well. As you do so, you may want to stop for a short while and contemplate the difficulties involved in creating this bridge, shipping it to the country and erecting it at its present location during a time when technology was only just starting to bloom. After doing that, a quick picnic lunch overlooking the valley and the river are a great distraction from the day’s drive.