HALIFAX: The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) expects that work on the Lennox Passage Bridge will take longer and cost more than anticipated.

On August 9, DTIR media relations advisor Marla MacInnis said work to the bridge connecting Isle Madame and mainland Richmond County has been extended into October. As a result, the department does not expect the lift bridge to be operational for marine traffic this season, she said.

“The contractor is working diligently to complete this project as soon as possible, however, the scope of the work has increased due to some mechanical and structural issues that must be addressed for the safe and efficient operation of the bridge,” MacInnis told The Reporter. “One lane will continue to remain open and controlled by traffic lights for the duration of this work. We look forward to reopening both lanes in the fall and appreciate the public’s patience as work continues.”

Peter McLaughlin, director of communications with the DTIR, explained that the project is expected to finish by late October and the lift bridge will be operational for boating traffic next spring.

McLaughlin told The Reporter the department expected the work to conclude at the end of June but unforeseen issues arose.

“Some of the repair work we anticipated doing on site, but once the crews started to do the work, it was realized that wasn’t possible,” McLaughlin said. “The parts need to be disassembled, taken away to be worked on and then reassembled on site.

“It was also determined that the bearings on the concrete girders also need replacing. It would be a more expensive and difficult to do the replacement in a few years’ time so it made sense, with the contractor on site, to complete the work now and lessen the possibility of disruptions in the future. TIR was not previously aware of these issues.”

Last November, the DTIR changed the original tender. MacInnis told The Reporter on November 23 that the department awarded the $4.64 million contract for the span to Allsteel Coatings Limited but there were changes to the “scope and scale of the mechanical and electrical repairs” to the bridge.

McLaughlin explained that the additional work will add another 10 per cent to the final cost of the project.

In the winter of 2018, the speed limit on the bridge was reduced to 20 kilometres an hour as a temporary measure to reduce the impact to the bridge until the joints were repaired. The DTIR explained at the time that they noticed increased vibrations coming from one of the joints on the bridge platform, which was attributed to “typical wear and tear on steel bridges.”

In May of 2018, the Lennox Passage Yacht Club expressed their displeasure that the lift bridge was unable to open for the start of the boating season.

The yacht club received calls from boaters in the United States and New Brunswick curious about the state of the bridge and whether it was going to be ready for boats. Aside from that group, local businesses and other groups like the St. Peter’s Marina were also affected by the closure.

This work, which started late last year, included repairs to the deck, steel work underneath the bridge, structural, concrete and mechanical repairs, electrical work, abutment stabilization and a replacement of the joints.