Province looking at whether Hillsborough Bridge can handle weight of a pedestrian walkway, sewage pipe
A study is underway to see if the Hillsborough Bridge can handle more weight.
The Town of Stratford has been pushing for a walkway across the bridge for the past few years and it’s also exploring options to solve its sewage lagoon issue, once and for all.
One of those options is to pipe it over to the Charlottetown treatment facility on Riverside Drive through a pipe that would run under the bridge.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is looking at whether the bridge, as it stands now, can support the extra weight of a walkway and a sewage pipe.
Darrell Evans, manager of design and bridge maintenance for the department, said a structure analysis was conducted last year.
Evans said the two steel box girders under the bridge were designed to 1967 codes. Codes have changed since then, as have vehicle weights and adding additional more weight does concern engineers.
However, the first part of the study didn’t involve actually measuring current bridge stress. That’s the next step.
“We advised the town that we are committed to going back to the drawing board; getting sensors, such as straining agents, on the bridge to measure the actual stresses that are out there,’’ Evans said Monday.
More than 38,000 vehicles cross that bridge every day. The bridge was widened to four lanes in 1997 by Strait Crossing, the same company that built the Confederation Bridge.
Evans said he’s hoping to have results to consider this fall that will tell the province whether the bridge can withstand a walkway and sewage line.
Installing a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists using the existing width of the bridge creates challenges for vehicles.
The other is installing a barrier between vehicles and those using the walkway “which is really difficult without reducing traffic width . . . once we start reducing traffic width we reduce capacity’’.
Evans said the department hopes to get started on the second phase within the next month and if the ultimately decision is that the bridge can stand the extra weight, it would still be a few years before anything is actually built.
The Hillsborough Bridge had moderate traffic early Canada Day afternoon. A study is being done on the bridge to determine if it can stand the addition of a walkway and sewer line from Stratford.