Causeway upgrades in final stages
Traffic freely flowing through Canso Causeway as swing bridge improvements continue
Major components of planned upgrades to the swing bridge at the Canso Causeway have been completed.
The work had interrupted traffic from time-to-time while upgrades were made to the bridge and while causeway and rock work was undertaken along the route that connects Cape Breton to mainland Nova Scotia.
“The biggest part of the schedule was having the canal operational on May 15 of this year at 7:30 in the morning,” said Andrew MacPherson, an engineer with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
“That was the biggest hurdle and we met that schedule.”
The swing bridge is 60 years old and required significant upgrades to ensure it continues to provide service to all transportation types including vehicular, marine and rail.
The upgrades include structural, mechanical and electrical repairs, and various traffic improvements. It also includes the construction of a new operators’ building adjacent to the swing bridge to allow for increased vertical clearance for high-sided vehicles travelling to Cape Breton.
MacPherson said the major components to the bridge upgrades
that have been completed include a new operating system. There’s still some landscaping, cleanup and electrical work to do. Minor work to the
operators building must also be completed, he noted.
The expectation is that the bridge will be easier to operate now, he said. Improvements will
also include a horn that sounds when the canal will open and an improved barrier system for traffic.
“Once they stop there is now a barrier in place that should be able to absorb the full impact of a vehicle if somebody lost control or something like that when the bridge was opening.”
Much of the work was performed while the canal was closed to marine traffic during its regular closure period, Dec. 25 to April 15.
To help reduce vehicular traffic delays, temporary detour bridge and temporary road approaches were put in place.
The only delays expected from now on will be when the bridge must open for marine traffic and an occasional functional test to ensure the system works as expected.
“There’s a lot less of that than there was in the two weeks leading up to it opening,” said MacPherson. “We are functional to marine traffic now. We’ve had six or seven go through and there’s no issues with that.”
In July 2014, the federal government transferred the administration and control of the Canso Causeway to the province. The transfer included federal funding of $9 million toward work on the swing bridge and the causeway.
The contract, worth $8.95 million, was awarded to Allsteel Coatings Ltd.
Work began in January 2016 and is on schedule to conclude this fall.
The swing bridge at the Canso Causeway canal is shown open to allow a boat to pass through. Work on upgrades to the bridge has been ongoing.