Re­pairs could be com­plete by next sum­mer

Seal Is­land Bridge in­terim re­port due be­fore Christ­mas

Cape Breton Post - - NORTHSIDE/CAPE BRETON - BY ERIN POTTIE

The first phase of a de­tailed in­spec­tion of the Seal Is­land Bridge will pin­point re­pairs that could be com­pleted next sum­mer said Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion district di­rec­tor Roy Mac­Don­ald.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, con­trac­tors be­gan vis­ual and non-de­struc­tive test­ing of var­i­ous steel sec­tions of the bridge, along with a full in­spec­tion of all its welds.

Opened in 1961, the bridge crosses the Great Bras d’Or chan­nel of the salt­wa­ter Bras d’Or Lake be­tween Boularderie Cen­tre and New Har­ris.

“It wouldn’t be un­usual that a struc­ture of na­ture, in that en­vi­ron­ment, would re­quire some main­te­nance re­pairs,” said Mac­Don­ald. “At this point, a re­place­ment of that struc­ture is not part of the dis­cus­sion … Had there been any ur­gent is­sues we could have re­acted to them, but that’s not the case”

Mac­Don­ald said an ex­am­i­na­tion was car­ried out on sec­tions un­der­neath the road decking.

“They were able to go along the en­tire road, the un­der­side of the road sur­face and in­spect ev­ery­thing un­der there and the lower part of the steel arch,” said Mac­Don­ald.

“Next, in the spring, and we be­lieve it to be late March, they will com­plete their in­spec­tion of the higher part of the arch, the part that is above the road.”

The sub­se­quent phase of ex­am­i­na­tion will take a closer look at the un­der­wa­ter ce­ment por­tion of the struc­ture.

Mac­Don­ald said an in­terim re­port will be handed to the depart­ment’s struc­tural ex­perts prior to the hol­i­day sea­son for re­view.

A full re­port is ex­pected to be com­pleted by mid-June.

“Our struc­tural peo­ple will take that re­port and come up with a plan to ad­dress any de­fi­cien­cies and we’ll pre­pare a ten­der through­out the win­ter to ad­dress those de­fi­cien­cies. The re­pairs will take place next sum­mer.”

Pressed fur­ther for de­tails about the up­com­ing re­pairs, Mac­Don­ald said it’s pos­si­ble that their en­gi­neers may wish to com­plete the work in a dif­fer­ent time­frame.

“Once they pro­vide the in­terim re­port to our struc­tural peo­ple that’s when we ba­si­cally scope out what the work is, how ur­gent or not is it, does it have to be done now, or does it make more sense to ac­tu­ally wait and put it into a larger pack­age once the com­plete bridge is fully in,” he said.

Mac­Don­ald said when­ever re­pairs are com­pleted, of­fi­cials try their best to min­i­mize the im­pact on traf­fic.

Bridge in­spec­tions are nor­mally classed in three lev­els, be­gin­ning with an an­nual cur­sory over­view by a lo­cal su­per­vi­sor.

Of­fi­cials say two decades have passed since the last in-depth, level three in­spec­tion of the bridge.

Har­bour­side En­gi­neer­ing is con­duct­ing the $1.3-mil­lion in­spec­tion in two stages.

ERIN POTTIE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

An in­terim re­port out­lin­ing de­fi­cien­cies in the Seal Is­land Bridge will be sent to the prov­ince’s struc­tural ex­perts for re­view be­fore Christ­mas.

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