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Twisted metal over Groat Road leads to indefinite closure

WATCH ABOVE: Massive steel girders spanning the 102 Avenue bridge buckled forcing the city to close Groat Road until the issue is resolved. Fletcher Kent reports.

TUESDAY, MARCH 17 UPDATE: To see the latest story on the Groat Road closure and 102 Avenue bridge repairs, click here

EDMONTON — Drivers who use Groat Road may have to find alternate routes for much longer than expected, after a major setback in the 102 Avenue bridge construction. Four girders became bent early Monday morning.

The road was closed over the weekend between 107 Avenue and River Valley Road because the steel girders were being lifted into place.

On Sunday, the city extended the closure to Tuesday morning due to troubles with the girder placement and because work was stopped for about 12 hours because it was too windy for crews to work safely.

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Around 2:15 a.m. Monday, four of the girders buckled as one of them was being installed. Work was halted and several engineers were brought in to investigate.

“At this point in time we are not able to identify a single factor that caused the girders to fail,” said Barry Belcourt, branch manager of the roads design and construction branch with the City of Edmonton. The city said Groat Road will remain closed on Tuesday until all four girders can be removed or repaired. However, the process could take weeks, so it’s not known when the road will re-open to traffic.

The city is looking into a number of potential causes, including wind, temperatures, the quality of steel and the way it was being installed. The girders were bent as much as a metre and a half. The girders weight 40 tonnes each.

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How long it will take to get the project back on track will depend on what is learned from the review into why the girders buckled, Belcourt said.

The city needs to determine if more cranes are needed, if the girders can be repaired on site or if crews have to take the bridge apart and start over.

“In the worst-case scenario, if the steel can’t be repaired, it could delay the overall project by a year.”

Belcourt said the delay is likely to add to the project’s cost, which is pegged at $32 million.

“Regardless of the cause, public safety is paramount and we can’t have anyone travelling underneath the bridge until it’s safe to do so,” added Belcourt.

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The city said, in the worst case, the 102 Avenue bridge construction could be delayed a year.

There were crews working on the bridge when the girders were bent, but no one was injured.

The delay will also create more traffic headaches, admitted Mayor Don Iveson.

“I feel for the commuters … who’ve already been dealing with the delays and that’s only going to get worse … for the foreseeable future while the road remains closed,” he said.

2 a.m. view of the 102 Avenue bridge replacement over Groat Rd. The girders are still straight.

2 a.m. view of the 102 Avenue bridge replacement over Groat Road. The girders are still straight. Credit: The City of Edmonton

2:15 a.m. view of the 102 Avenue bridge replacement over Groat Rd. The girders on the right are now warped in the middle.

2:15 a.m. view of the 102 Avenue bridge replacement over Groat Rd. The girders on the right became warped in the middle. Credit: The City of Edmonton

Suggested detour routes during the closure include:

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  • Victoria Park Road
  • 149 Street to Whitemud Drive
  • 109 Street to the High Level Bridge

ETS Route 128 will continue to detour to Victoria Park Road/116 Street/107 Avenue. Extra service was added on Monday to make up for the delay.

The city is running a live bridge camera on its website for those who wish to watch a bit of the construction.

News spread quickly on social media, where people were quick to poke fun at the incident.

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With files from The Canadian Press, CHED

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