Edmonton

New Walterdale Bridge delayed a full year, city says

The opening date for the new Walterdale Bridge has been pushed back a full year, from fall 2015 to fall 2016, the city announced today.

'We know many Edmontonians will also be disappointed and we regret the delay,' says city

Barry Belcourt, the city's manager of road design and construction, gathered the media together Wednesday to announce that the Walterdale Bridge project will be delayed by up to a year.

The opening date for the new Walterdale Bridge has been pushed back a full year, from fall 2015 to fall 2016, the city announced today. 

Steel needed to build the new bridge was delivered months behind schedule, the city said Wednesday. 

"We are disappointed that the new Walterdale Bridge will not open to public service in fall 2015, as we had anticipated," said Barry Belcourt, the city's branch manager for roads design and construction. "We know many Edmontonians will also be disappointed and we regret the delay."

The existing Walterdale Bridge will continue carrying traffic downtown until the new bridge opens. Traffic and river valley trail detours remain in place.

The project's general contractor, Acciona/Pacer Joint Venture, said without the steel on site it was unable to meet several project milestones. As part of its contract with the city, APJV has assumed what is called "full project delivery risk," including penalties for schedule delays.

The city said those penalties will begin costing the contractor $10,000 a day, starting in June, and could add up to more than $5 million by the time the bridge opens.
The opening of the new Walterdale Bridge in the river valley will now be delayed a full year, the city said Wednesday. (CBC)

Raquel Garcia, managing director of Acciona Infrastructure Canada, said APJV remains committed to working with the city to complete the bridge.

"The APJV is disappointed that construction is delayed due to issues with the structural steel manufacturer," Garcia said. "The APJV has implemented, and will continue to implement, various mitigation strategies to resolve these challenges."

As part of the contract, the construction schedule and steel delivery were risks borne by the contractor Belcourt said.

"The city is protecting its interests by holding the contractor accountable, and will ultimately levy penalties as a result," he said.

Project costs remain within the established $155-million budget, with no additional costs anticipated for the city or taxpayers as a result of the delay.

Despite the delay, construction work continues at the site. Crews continue to backfill cofferdams and complete concrete bridge support legs. Next steps include assembling the arch steel in preparation to launch the central arch pieces across river later this year. 

Construction of the new bridge began in January 2013.

Given the delay, the new bridge is now expected to open to traffic in fall 2016, with removal of the existing bridge scheduled for spring 2017. The steel arches, which will span more than 200 meters, were constructed in South Korea and arrived in Edmonton at the end of March.

Once the steel was fabricated in Yeosu, crews constructed the arches on their side to make sure all the pieces fit together.

The arches were then taken apart like a jig-saw puzzle to make them easier to transport. The largest piece weighs 100 tonnes and measures about 10 metres wide.

​Each piece was numbered, and shipped in the order needed for construction.

The first shipment arrived in North America in mid-February. The biggest pieces were sent to Everett, Wa., where the rail route to Edmonton has wider tunnels.

The smaller pieces were sent to Vancouver.

As each shipment arrived at Edmonton rail yards, it was then delivered to the construction site by trucks.

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