‘An engineering feat’: Workday traffic flows during Halifax bridge overhaul

Halifax bridge overhauled after work hours

HALIFAX — A roughly 10 metre segment hung in the fog over Halifax Harbour on Sunday to fill the 46th and final gap in the decades-old MacDonald Bridge in time for tens of thousands of cars to cross the bridge Monday morning.

On most days since 2015, when the workday ended, construction on the Macdonald Bridge started. The 1.3-kilometre suspension bridge has been refitted piece by piece with almost an entirely new deck over the span of almost two years while still allowing people to commute between Halifax and the city’s sprawling suburbs from dawn to dark on weekdays.

The redecking phase of the “Big Lift” project on the Macdonald Bridge marked the second time that an entire suspended structure has been replaced while allowing about tens of thousands of crossings on an average workday since the redecking process was pioneered on the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver more than a decade ago, according to a spokesperson for the authority that manages the bridges in Halifax.

“People have described this as a once-in-a-lifetime kind of project,” said Alison MacDonald of Halifax Harbour Bridges.

“It’s an engineering feat, no doubt about it. We are essentially taking the bridge apart every weekend and then putting it back together for people to drive over the next morning.”

Since 2015, the bridge has been closed periodically on weekends while crews spliced the suspended structure into about 10 to 20-metre-long sections that were lowered onto trucks or barges in the harbour. New deck segments were swapped in with lifting gantry to close the hole in the bridge before rush-hour traffic.

“We’re thrilled to have reached this milestone,” says MacDonald. “It’s a source of pride for people in the city that we’ve managed to pull off a project of this scope.”

Known locally as “the old bridge,” the Macdonald Bridge is one of two structures linking Halifax and Dartmouth. The suspension bridge has been worn down by about 34 million crossings per year since its 1955 construction, says MacDonald, leading to concerns that the corroding floor beams could pose a safety risk in the future.

The provincial government issued a more than $200-million loan to refurbish the bridge, which MacDonald says will be paid back through toll fares.

The redecking phase of the construction project was originally scheduled to be completed last fall but progress has been stalled by heady winds and poor weather, says MacDonald.

“The bridge is at its most vulnerable when there’s a hole in it, so wind was our enemy in this project,” says MacDonald. “When it rains, it rains sideways … At time we had to stop work because it wasn’t safe to do so.”

MacDonald says this weekend’s “major milestone” should bring an end to routine weekend closures, but the bridge will still be shut down from 7:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday as work continues on other parts of the span.

Pedestrians who have been forced to use a shuttle service since the bridge’s sidewalks and bike lanes were closed last summer should be able to cross without a car some time next month, she says.

The next tasks include replacing the floor beams beneath the deck and suspension cables as well as dehumidifying the bridge’s main cable, according to MacDonald. When the project wraps up this fall, MacDonald says commuters are in for a much smoother drive on their way to work.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Out to pasture at the Freak’n Farmer

The annual “fun” event at Covert Farms put on by the Covert family and HooDoo Adventures

West Kelowna Warriors dominate the Nanaimo Clippers

Three goals were scored during power plays

Fundraiser with wine to raise money for JoeAnna’s House

The Sovereign Order of St. John has committed to raise and donate $50,000

Okanagan artist donates painting to Okanagan College

Bryan Ryley, former instructor at the college donated an acrylic painting

Kiwanis Club donates money to Okanagan College

This establishes the Kiwanis Kelowna 2018 Legacy Education Endowment

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Fuhr: A looming pilot shortage

By Stephen Fuhr Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with local… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

Most Read