Nova Scotia

Longer commutes on Macdonald Bridge worry cyclists

The first phase of The Big Lift project on the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax begins Sunday, but cyclists and pedestrians are concerned about how the 18-month project will affect them.

Cyclists say the proposed drop-off site for a shuttle on the Halifax side is too far away

Marc Rickard is the owner of The Bike Pedaler in Dartmouth. (CBC)

The first phase of The Big Lift project on the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax begins Sunday, but cyclists and pedestrians are concerned about how the 18-month project will affect them.

The Big Lift involves removing the suspended span of the Macdonald Bridge and replacing it. The span will be removed in 46 sections, with each weighing up to 120 tonnes.

In June, the pedestrian and cyclist pathways will be taken down and replaced by a shuttle. The proposed drop-off site on the Halifax side is too far away, says one cyclist.

“It's off the beaten track in a lot of ways, and [it] really would be very difficult for a lot of the cyclists that approach the bridge from different directions,” said Blair Barrington, a board member with the Halifax Cycling Coalition.

The proposed site is by the sewage treatment plant on Upper Water Street toward the casino.

The agency overseeing Halifax’s two bridges says it needs a spot that can accommodate a small bus pulling a 12-bike trailer.

"It's a long unit, so we have requirements in terms of where we can go and the amount of space that we need to get turned around," said Alison MacDonald.

Longer cycling commutes?

One of the concerns of cyclists is that their commutes will be made longer. For Marc Rickard, the owner of The Bike Pedaler in Dartmouth, he’s concerned that cycling commuters might switch to using cars.

"I've been a little concerned that it's going to affect our business as well. Those are the people that come in every six weeks or so to get service done on their bicycles," he said.

MacDonald says officials are looking for another drop-off location for the Halifax side, closer to the bridge head.

A suitable location hasn't been found yet, but the Halifax Cycling Coalition says it’s encouraged that the search continues.

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