Nipigon River Bridge updates

July 4, 2016

Since January, when traffic was disrupted on the bridge, we have been working to discover the full story on what happened to the bridge.

Demolition of the old bridge is complete and construction of the third tower is well underway. This work is a vital step in completion of the bridge project.  As well, the monitoring of the temporary repair that was installed in January shows it continues to function as expected and the bridge remains safe for use by all.

The investigation into the cause, including the bolt review and next steps, is underway. While the ministry has received the reports from two independent labs - Surface Science Western (SSW) and Faculty of Engineering at Western University, and the National Research Council Canada (NRC) – the study into the bolts is only one piece of the larger picture.  The bolt study provided us with only a partial answer about the bridge, and as such we think it’s premature to discuss it on its own at this time.

The findings of these reviews are informing the ongoing work to determine what happened to the bridge.  We feel it is important to present a full picture. Once all the work is complete and the causes are known, the Ministry will report back to the community and make the bolt and other reports/summaries available.

The investigation remains a top priority for the Ministry.

February 26, 2016 – Final daily update

  • With the re-opening of the Nipigon River bridge to two lanes of traffic, work will now be resuming on the project.
  • The next phase of work includes demolition of the old bridge, which is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete, weather permitting.
  • Work will then shift to construction of the second half of the new bridge, with work focusing on construction of the third tower for the remainder of the year.  The recent problems with the bridge were not related to the tower design.
  • We are able to move forward with construction at this time as we are confident that the recent issues will not reoccur.  The temporary repair has been reviewed by an independent engineering firm and found to be appropriate.  The bridge is safe for the travelling public.
  • Testing of the bolts continues at the two independent labs and work is ongoing to determine the cause of the failure.  Once a cause has been determined, the information will be made public and posted here.
  • Thank you for your patience as we worked to reopen the bridge to two lanes of traffic.

February 25, 2016

  • The Nipigon River Bridge is now open to two lanes of traffic.
  • We thank everyone for their patience.

February 24, 2016

  • Highway 11/17 at the Nipigon River Bridge is scheduled to open to two lanes of traffic on Thursday, February 25 by 10 a.m.
  • Please obey and follow all traffic signage for the safety of both workers and drivers while work continues through the construction zone.

February 23, 2016

  • There are no longer any special weight restrictions at the Nipigon River Bridge.
  • Repair work continues to south expansion joints.
  • Bridge currently remains open to single lane traffic.
  • Five minute delays can be expected.

February 22, 2016

  • Temporary repair system was installed over the weekend.
  • Concrete weight has been removed from the bridge deck.
  • Traffic has switched over to the north side of the bridge while repairs to south expansion joints are being completed.
  • Bridge currently remains open to single lane traffic.
  • Five minute delays can be expected.

February 19, 2016

  • Primary temporary repair has been installed and tested.
  • The attached diagrams depict the system that is installed.
    This drawing shows the temporary repair that is being installed on the north girder of the Nipigon River Bridge. The repair will hold the bridge deck in place.
    This drawing shows the temporary repair that is being installed on the south girder of the Nipigon River Bridge. The repair will hold the bridge deck in place.
  • Closures of approximately two hours each are planned on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21 from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m.
  • Concrete barriers will be removed throughout the weekend.  Delays of up to 15 minutes can be expected while the barriers are being removed.
  • Single lane traffic will continue throughout next week while repairs to the expansion joint are being completed.
  • We remain on schedule to re-open the bridge to two lanes by the end of February.

February 18, 2016

  • Short term traffic delays can be expected on Highway 11/17 at the Nipigon River Bridge this weekend. 
  • Closures of approximately two hours each are planned on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21 from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m.
  • Additional short term closures of 15 minutes or less may also occur throughout the weekend.
  • These temporary closures are required to ensure the safety of road users and workers while necessary bridge repairs are completed.
  • The ministry will ensure emergency response through the highway closures is still maintained.

February 17, 2016

  • Associated Engineering has completed its peer review of the temporary repair. No concerns were found.
  • A 10-15 minute closure will be required later this week to allow for work on the north girder.
  • Additional 5-10 minute closures will also be required.

February 16, 2016

  • Work over the weekend progressed on schedule.
  • Concrete supports on the bridge deck were poured.
  • This week, workers will start assembling the components for the temporary repair.

February 12, 2016

  • All the materials needed for the repairs are on site.  Workers are preparing to install them.
  • Work will continue over the long weekend and will include: 
    • installing lower supports on the bridge’s abutment; and
    • pouring concrete for the temporary supports on the bridge deck.
  • Bridge monitoring continues on a 24 hour basis.

February 11, 2016

  • Due to the cold weather, workers are constructing enclosures on the bridge deck to warm up the area where concrete is being poured.
  • Wait time to cross remains five minutes or less.

February 10, 2016

  • Work on the bridge deck is beginning
  • Temporary concrete supports for the repairs are being constructed on the bridge deck.
  • Work will be continuing throughout the Family Day long weekend.
  • Five minute delays can be expected.

February 9, 2016

  • Material continues to arrive on site.
  • Concrete is being poured as part of the temporary repair.
  • Wait time to cross remains less than five minutes.

February 8, 2016

  • Anchor rods now in place for the temporary support.
  • Temporary repairs remain on schedule, with materials continuing to arrive on site.
  • 24-hour monitoring continues.

February 4, 2016

  • Physical testing of the bolts continues at both labs.
  • Wait time to cross remains less than five minutes.

February 2, 2016

  • Installation of anchor rods for the temporary repair is underway.
  • Since January 11, over 100 oversize/overweight permits have been issued.
  • Wait time to cross remains less than five minutes.

February 1, 2016

  • Foundation work for the temporary support is now complete.
  • Fabrication of the components for the temporary repair will continue all week.
  • Preparation of the bridge deck surface will begin this week.
  • Wait time to cross remains less than five minutes.

January 29, 2016

  • Work on the repair will continue this weekend on a 24hr operation.
  • Shop fabrication of components for the temporary repair will continue throughout the weekend.
  • 24-hour monitoring of the bridge continues.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

January 27, 2016

  • An oversize/overweight permit is required if the dimensions or weight of your vehicle and/or load exceed the limits set out in the Highway Traffic Act.
  • Foundation work for the temporary repair is continuing on a 24 hour basis.
  • 24-hour monitoring of the bridge continues.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

January 26, 2016

  • Load restrictions have been increased on the bridge - loads up to 5.0 m in width and 70,000 kg are now allowed.
  • Loads of greater width and weight ‎will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Foundation work for the temporary repair now underway.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

January 25, 2016

  • Visual examination of the bolts has been completed by both labs.
  • Physical testing of the bolts to begin today.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

January 22, 2016

  • Physical testing of the bolts will begin Monday at both NRC and Surface Science Western.
  • Conceptual repair designs submitted for review.

January 21, 2016

  • Bridge and roadway lights activated to improve safety.
  • Associated Engineering (Ont.) Ltd. will conduct an independent review of the repair design.

January 20, 2016

  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

Statement by the Minister of Transportation on Nipigon River Bridge

NEWS

January 19, 2016

"I am pleased to provide an update on the Nipigon River Bridge situation.

Earlier today, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and I spoke with municipal and First Nations representatives from across the region to provide them with a progress update on both the work to find a cause for the recent bridge issue and our progress in re-opening both lanes of the bridge to traffic.

Two respected research and testing facilities have been selected to conduct testing of the bolts from the bridge: Surface Science Western and the Faculty of Engineering at Western University and the National Research Council of Canada.

This week, the labs will be completing an independent, visual ‎examination of the bolts. Once that examination is complete, the two labs will be in a better position to determine how long the full testing will take. Full testing will include a chemical analysis of the bolts, a determination of the nature of the failure, a confirmation of the mechanical properties of the bolts as well as a comparison of the bolts to design specifications. We have expressed to both research labs that this testing is a top priority for our government, however, it is important that we get it right, and that will take some time.

This testing will help the ministry determine the cause of the issue and develop a permanent solution.

The ministry continues to work with the Ontario Professional Engineers who performed the design of the bridge at WSP (formerly McCormick Rankin Corp in Mississauga), and the Canadian firm that provided additional cable stayed bridge expertise, Buckland Taylor in British Columbia. The design was performed in accordance with the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code and is capable of withstanding the necessary Code design parameters for winds in excess of 100 km/h and climatic conditions including freezing temperatures well below -40 degrees celsius. The tensioning of the cables has been confirmed however, the ministry has not yet ruled out any factors in its investigation of the cause. All of this work, combined with the results from the Western University and NRC analysis, will help the ministry determine the cause of the issue and allow our engineers to begin the development of a permanent solution.‎ Together with the contractor, a joint venture with Bot Construction Canada and Ferrovial Agroman Canada Inc., and their suppliers from within North America, significant efforts will continue to provide a safe and reliable solution that will open the bridge to two lanes.

The ministry is also currently reviewing a number of repair options to open the Nipigon River Bridge to two lanes of traffic. Each option proposes a different connection method and location to connect the bridge deck to the foundation. The chosen solution will also be peer reviewed by Ontario and other Canadian engineers.

To complete the work, occasional lane closures and temporary short-term full closures of the bridge during off-peak hours will be necessary. Notice of the complete closures will be provided well in advance to the neighbouring communities and travelers through our website and 511, MTO’s Road Information Line. Our goal is to re-open the bridge to two lanes by the end of February.

Work on the demolition of the old bridge remains paused as we focus on fully reopening the bridge to traffic and implementing a permanent solution.

Again, please be assured that I take my responsibilities for road safety seriously. That is why the design of the Nipigon River Bridge was completed by professional engineers licensed in Ontario. The design is in compliance with the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code which considers regional climate conditions.

I would like to thank everyone for their continued patience. MTO will continue to provide regular updates to the public as information becomes available. I would also like to thank Michael Gravelle for his leadership on behalf of the local community. For the latest information on highway closures, the public can call 511 or check Ontario.ca/511."

January 18, 2016

  • Traffic signals are now being used to move one lane of traffic over the bridge.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than five minutes.

January 15, 2016

  • Two independent testing facilities have been selected to conduct testing to determine the cause of the bolts failure: National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa and Surface Science Western at Western University.
  • Testing work is expected to ‎start on Monday.
  • Wait times continue to be less than five minutes.

January 14, 2016

  • Minister Gravelle and Minister Del Duca attended site yesterday and met with Mayor Richard Harvey from the Town of Nipigon and Chief Wawia and council members from Red Rock FN including regional Chief Pelletier for Robinson Superior Treaty and Chief Hardy from‎ Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek.
  • 24-hour monitoring of the bridge joints and bearings continues.
  • One lane of traffic continues to move over the bridge, under flagging conditions and with a pace vehicle.
  • Expected wait time to cross less than 5 minutes.

Statement by the Minister of Transportation on Nipigon River Bridge

NEWS

January 11, 2016

The following statement is from the Hon. Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation:

“As Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, my number one priority is the safety of all roads and highways in this province. 

On Sunday afternoon, the OPP closed the Nipigon River Bridge to traffic due to safety concerns. 

Ministry staff worked through the night to rectify the situation, using counterweights to level the bridge surface. An engineering inspection was also completed to ensure the safety of the bridge and the travelling public. 

Keeping Ontario moving is a shared priority of all involved, and I commend the hardworking crews who laboured throughout the night to return this important piece of highway infrastructure to the safe, driving condition all Canadians expect.

As of this statement, one lane is open for cars and regular weight transports.  Staff are continuing to work to determine when oversized trucks can use the bridge

Crews remain on site to identify the cause of the issue and updates from MTO will be communicated as they become available. For the latest information on highway closures, the public can call 511, MTO’s Road Information Line or check www.Ontario.ca/511.     

My colleague Minister Michael Gravelle will be visiting Nipigon River Bridge this morning. I look forward to visiting the site later this week to survey the site myself and I will provide a further update at that time.

Again, I would like to thank all affected travellers, the local First Nations communities and townspeople along Highway 11/17 for their patience and understanding as we took the necessary steps to return this piece of critical infrastructure back to service.”

Patrick Searle, Minister’s Office, Patrick.Searle@ontario.ca
Annemarie Piscopo, Regional Communications Coordinator, (807) 474-2954

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