Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nipigon River bridge breaks in cold temperature

Old bridge alongside the new cable-stayed bridge in November was removed
I wrote back in November about the new Nipigon River bridge which I incorrectly referred to as a suspension bridge. It actually is a cable-stayed bridge, the difference being that it has a support and towers in the center and cables stretched to each end as compared to the supports at the ends and the cables carrying the bridge across the entire span.
Anyway, a few days after Brenda and I drove past the Nipigon River on the old bridge on our way to the Tourism Summit in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., half of the new $106 million, 800-foot-long bridge was opened. Everything worked fine until a few days ago when the winter finally turned seasonal and the temperature dropped to -25 C. A couple in a vehicle approaching the bridge was astonished to see the bridge deck jump upwards two feet! There was now a two-foot barrier in front of them. They were able to stop in time but two vehicles coming the other direction were not so lucky and ended up being damaged.
The bridge was immediately closed and in so doing stopped all traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway. At this particular spot both Hwy 11 and Hwy 17 -- the Trans-Canada -- run together.  The next closest bridge going east and west is all the way in Sault Ste. Marie, 600 kilometres away!
Further examination by highway authorities discovered the bolts that held the bridge to the land at one end had sheared, apparently from the added stress of the cables as they contracted in the cold temperatures.
One lane of the bridge has since been re-opened with a guide vehicle taking turns leading vehicles east and west.
It is Ontario's only cable-stayed bridge and was intended to be a jewel of the Northern Ontario highway system.
Here's a link to CBC's ongoing coverage of the event.
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Doug Billings said...

Hey Dan,

Will that mess up my trip from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie this summer after my week at Bow Narrows? I made that crossing last summer but the new bridge wasn't opened yet.



Dan Baughman said...

They should have it fixed well before that. Since this bridge is the only connection between Eastern and Western Canada, fixing it is top priority. There are many thousands of vehicles crossing the river here daily. I would bet they have both lanes open again very soon. Incidentally, the only way to lower the end that was causing the problem was to add weight to it. We heard they have placed a half-million pounds on it and that is how they were able to open the one lane which is currently being used.