Diefen­baker Bridge un­der the mi­cro­scope

In­spec­tion says 2011 re­pairs hold­ing steading

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON KERR

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment says Diefen­baker Bridge is in good shape and ready to han­dle in­creas­ing traf­fic vol­umes, pro­vided it is prop­erly main­tained in the fu­ture.

On Mon­day, the govern­ment re­leased the re­sults of an anal­y­sis of the bridge con­ducted in Novem­ber 2016 by ISL En­gi­neer­ing and Land Ser­vices Ltd. The anal­y­sis says re­pairs will have to be made in the near fu­ture, but over­all the bridge is in work­ing con­di­tion.

“While our anal­y­sis in­di­cates that the fa­tigue life of the hor­i­zon­tal brac­ing con­nec­tion may be com­ing to the end of its life, this does not mean the struc­ture can­not con­tinue to serve its pur­pose,” the re­port reads. “Its load­ing ca­pac­ity is still ad­e­quate for the trans­porta­tion of goods, and the Min­istry has a number of op­tions to keep the bridge in ser­vice.”

The re­port’s most im­por­tant item was the state of re­pairs com­pleted in 2011 to a ma­jor frac­ture known as a Con­straint In­duced Frac­ture (CIF). Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the re­pairs are “func­tion­ing as in­tended and re­quires no fur­ther work.” How­ever, there are other con­cerns.

Nat­u­ral wear and tear make have ac­cel­er­ated due to what the au­thors of the re­port call “both poor de­tail­ing and bad con­struc­tion prac­tices.” Floor beams on the bridge were im­prop­erly fit­ted, which is plac­ing a high amount of stress on the main girder. The re­port au­thors ex­pect more cracks to oc­cur “in the near fu­ture” as a re­sult.

A spokesman from the De­part­ment of High­ways said those prob­lems likely stem from the bridge’s orig­i­nal con­struc­tion pe­riod roughly five decades ago.

Other cracks were found, which are con­sid­ered nor­mal wear and tear for a bridge of this age.

Mayor Greg Dionne said it’s re­fresh­ing to know the en­tire bridge has been in­spected, and was pleased with the re­sponse from the min­istry.

“At one point they had a bridge in­spec­tion and the pil­lars weren’t done, and Coun. (Don) Cody brought that up,” he said. “It’s now ob­vi­ous when you look at it that the bridge is re­paired and in good shape.”

Dionne said any fu­ture re­pairs will be done at night to help de­crease de­lays for mo­torists. Mon­i­tors will also be placed on the bridge to give a more ac­cu­rate count of daily traf­fic num­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port there is a lack of his­tor­i­cal traf­fic data, which is needed to ac­cu­rately pre­dict fu­ture be­hav­ior. The new mon­i­tors will help fill that hole, es­pe­cially when it comes to truck traf­fic.

Over­all, the re­port says the im­pact of “over­weight traf­fic” on the bridge has been min­i­mal. A to­tal of 944 semitrucks crossed the bridge over the past year. Roughly 24,000 ve­hi­cles cross Diefen­baker Bridge each day.

“While our anal­y­sis in­di­cates that the fa­tigue life of the hor­i­zon­tal brac­ing con­nec­tion may be com­ing to the end of its life, this does not mean the struc­ture can­not con­tinue to serve its pur­pose. Its load­ing ca­pac­ity is still ad­e­quate for the trans­porta­tion of goods, and the Min­istry has a number of op­tions to keep the bridge in ser­vice.” Ex­cerpt from in­de­pen­dent en­gi­neer­ing anal­y­sis of Diefen­baker Bridge.

HER­ALD FILE PHOTO.

A re­cent in­spec­tion of Diefen­baker Bridge, pic­tured, shows that re­pair work done in 2011 is look­ing good, mean­ing the bridge should be us­able well into the fu­ture.

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