Big Lift gantry bridge closure

A new deck segment is lifted into place on the Macdonald Bridge over Halifax Harbour. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

A delay in installing a deck section on the Macdonald Bridge last weekend won't put the Big Lift significantly behind schedule, says a Halifax Harbour Bridges official. 

"There was a lot of technical information from installing the second segment that we wanted to analyse and apply to 
the third (one),"  chief engineer Jon Eppell said.

 "The other factor was the forecast for the weekend had some fairly high winds and we were a bit nervous
of that as well."  

A total of 46 sections on the span of the Macdonald Bridge need to be replaced.  

This type of construction project has only been done once before — on the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver.

American Bridge Company is the civil engineering company which did that work and is also doing the Big Lift in Halifax.

Still in learning curve stage

The Lion's Gate project was two years behind schedule.  

That isn't likely to happen with the Macdonald bridge deck replacement, Eppell said.

"We did some of the pre-engineering work that the contractor would normally would do in order to try and have a better gauge for the schedule of the project," he  said.

But bridge officials are not yet sure when the next section will be lifted into place or how long it will take. They say are still in the learning curve stage. 

One municipal councillor says it's that unpredictability that's irritating the people she's hearing from.

"For the most part, everybody's putting up with it," said Lorelei Nicoll, District 4, Cole-Harbour-Westphal.

Lane closures expected to end

"There are those that are wondering should we rethink how we are going about doing this? Is it better to have
more pain in a short period of time rather than a small pain over a longer period of time."  

There is some good news for frustrated commuters dealing with the reduction of one lane on the bridge during the day.  

"The bottleneck is right there at the tolls,"  Nicoll said. "I'm sure the drivers are wondering because there's nobody visibly working but the lane's dropped out." 

The lane closure is needed for the safety of the crew doing preparation work underneath the span, but that should soon become less frequent. 

"We're expecting these lane closures to start to go away towards the end of this month," said Eppell.

 "There may be periodic lane closures as we move through the project but not as much as what we've been seeing."