The 800-year-old Ta Ong Bridge in Siem Reap province is being restored by the Apsara National Authority (ANA) to preserve its original form as a legacy for future generations to visit and study.
The Ta Ong Bridge is the longest of 23 bridges along the ancient road from Angkor to the Bakan region, according to restoration project manager Puth Soth. Located in Chong Spean village of Chi Kraeng district’s Khvav commune, the bridge is 75m long, 13m wide and 8m high with 14 stone arches supporting its span.
The bridge was built from laterite rock and is decorated with a sandstone carving of a meditating Buddha sitting at the centre of a nine-headed dragon.
Based on the style of the dragon sculpture, the bridge is believed to have been built in the Bayon period between 1181 and 1220. After centuries of weather and pressures exerted by human and natural factors, the bridge is in a state of disrepair.
“To preserve our heritage and the work of our ancestors for a long time to come, ANA expert officials will renovate it, maintaining all forms from the original style of this ancient bridge,” Soth said.
Soth’s team is currently installing a steel girder to prevent the bridge from collapsing during work to dig out and dismantle decaying portions. Fallen and crumbled stones are being gathered to reassemble them in their original places.
With funding from the ANA, repairs began on January 15 and are scheduled to be completed in June. During the rebuilding process, traffic across the bridge is restricted.
Chi Kraeng district governor Pov Bunthoeun told The Post that local authorities had set up a detour along the bridge for villagers to drive motorbikes and tractors, but heavy vehicles were prohibited.
“We need to ban heavy vehicles from passing through this area because they could shake the foundations of the bridge and disrupt the repairs,” he said.
Bunthoeun added that local residents supported measures to protect the Ta Ong Bridge and cooperated with restrictions against heavy vehicles crossing the bridge at this time.