Nova Scotia

Macdonald Bridge Big Lift delayed again

The deck replacement of the MacDonald Bridge will not take place over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Project originally scheduled to begin in early September

The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge deck replacement was supposed to start in early September. (CBC)

Deck replacement on the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge will not begin over the Thanksgiving weekend, and officials with Halifax Harbour Bridges now hope the Big Lift will finally get underway Oct. 16.

"We're still doing prep work," said Jon Eppell, chief engineer and project manager. "Our temporary deck connection between the old and new segments, recently we just got the wheels on it so it can be wheeled into the position it needs to be.   

"This first segment is probably our most complicated one."

Work was supposed to start in September

The project was originally scheduled to begin in early September. 

Forty-six segments of the bridge span will be removed and replaced. Cherubini Metal Works Ltd., a Dartmouth company, is building the new deck sections.

"We have eight segments constructed and waiting outside," said Steve Ross, Cherubini's general manager. "Three of them are paved and painted." 
Jon Eppell, chief engineer and project manager of the Big Lift, says prep work is still being done. (CBC)

The loading crane can only handle a certain weight and extra items, such as water pipes, catwalks and guard rails have to be added to the segments after they have been loaded onto the barge that's moving them to the bridge.

The barge itself also needs modifications.

"It's got to have overhangs built off the barge for the segments to overhang the edge of the barge, so it's a little complicated," Eppell said.

And he says there's a lot of paperwork to make sure everything has been fabricated properly.

"By nature engineers are quite cautious," Eppell said. "We need to make sure we're 100 percent happy before we proceed."

Bridge closures

Engineers expect the first section to take about 30 hours, so the bridge will be shut down for the weekend. 

There will be at least three more weekend closures until crews are confident the sections can be replaced overnight. 

"We're not going to be rushed into it," Eppell said. "We only get one shot at doing it right and so we've got to get it right the first time." 

Pushing the start of the operation further into the fall does not affect the project because contractors had always planned to work through winter conditions and have built weather delays into the timeline. 

Bridge officials still expect the deck replacement to be finished by December 2016. 

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