HALIFAX: Although the speed limit on a local bridge was reduced as a result of damage, the province maintains it is safe.
On January 10, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) confirmed that the speed limit on the Lennox Passage Bridge on Isle Madame was reduced to 20 kilometres an hour while the department studied damage to the bridge’s joints.
The DTIR’s Eastern District bridge engineer, Chasta Boudreau explained they were onsite on Wednesday and noticed increased vibrations coming from one of the joints on the bridge platform, which she attributes to “typical wear and tear on steel bridges.” She explained that the joint in need of repair was located on the lift span of the bridge, near the deck area, where the bridge opens and closes.
Because passing vehicles – especially larger trucks, tractor trailers and school buses – create more vibration, Boudreau said the department put the speed restriction in place until repairs are complete.
With of a fatal collision on Highway 4 in Red Islands on January 10 diverting the DTIR’s resources to help close the highway and put detours in place, Boudreau said they were able to put up signs and alert the media to the speed reduction at the Lennox Passage Bridge. She noted that high winds prevented them from putting down traffic cones on Wednesday. On Thursday, Boudreau said the DTIR brought in a Variable Message Board to inform passing motorists to slow down.
“This is not a bridge you can close to do repairs,” Boudreau said of the only link to Isle Madame. “We don’t want to have to restrict the bridge or close the road down.”
To fix the joint, Boudreau said crews are employing an Under Bridge Vehicle to access it from beneath the platform. This work minimized the impact and vibrations from passing vehicles, as well as the damage to the joint, she noted.
The DTIR said last week that the bridge is safe and the public will be advised if further restrictions are required.
“The speed limit was reduced on the Lennox Passage Bridge as a temporary measure to reduce the impact to the bridge until its joints are repaired,” Marla MacInnis with the DTIR said on January 10.
“The repairs will happen in the next few days and the speed limit will then return to normal.
Boudreau explained that the bridge is currently on the province’s capital list for rehabilitation work this summer which will entail hiring a consultant to inspect the steel structure, electrical, mechanical, and slope of the span, including the abutments on either side.
“The consultant will tell us extent of repairs and we’ll put out a tender,” she added.