Stress­ful times

Province look­ing at whether Hills­bor­ough Bridge can han­dle weight of a pedes­trian walk­way, sewage pipe

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - Dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

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.

BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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