‘Big Lift’ officially underway in Halifax

HALIFAX — It’s official. The Big Lift is now underway on the Macdonald Bridge.

Saturday afternoon, a segment of bridge deck was very carefully lowered from the bridge to the ground.

The first segment to be replaced on the bridge is 54 feet in length and weighs 130 tons. It was a very slow process to remove the deck, taking more than two hours for crews to lower it to the ground.

Workers carefully lower a section of the Macdonald Bridge. Photo: Halifax Harbour Bridges

Steve Snider, CEO of Halifax Harbour Bridges, said things were moving a little slower than they expected.

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“The folks are taking their time up there and they’re doing it surly and slowly and all is looking good.”

The Big Lift is only the second time that crews have replaced parts of a suspension bridge while the bridge is still open to traffic. The first time was on the Lions Gate Bridge in British Columbia, a decade ago.

The unusual project drew in lots of curious onlookers.

The Big Lift drew in lots of curious spectators. Natasha Pace/Global News

“True to what we predicted, it’s a spectator sport,” Snider said of the Big Lift project.

“I think it’s pretty historic,” said Renee Schreder, one of many people who came out to watch the event. “We’re getting some pictures for my son who is out in Calgary right now.”

Some people waited all morning to get a glimpse of the first section of the Macdonald bridge to be lowered.

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“They’re obviously taking their time, being very cautious. It’s the old expression, measure twice and cut once I think in this situation,” said Brian Hicks. “I just wanted to see how they’re going to do this, taking the bridge apart and putting it back together again. I think it’ll be some pretty unique things to see.”

The first deck segment of the Macdonald Bridge was carefully lowered to the ground on Saturday. Natasha Pace/Global News

In total, crews will construct 46 deck segments that will replace the deck of the bridge. The first four will be replaced on weekends to allow workers more time to get familiar with the process.

When plans for the Big Lift were first announced, the deck installation was supposed to begin in September. Despite being a month late, officials said the project is going well.

Drivers are reminded that the Macdonald Bridge will remain closed all weekend while the first portion of the new deck is installed. The bridge is scheduled to reopen at 5:30 a.m. on Monday.

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The work is dependent on the weather, so the timeline could change. If the work is completed before Monday morning, the bridge will reopen early.

For up to date information on the bridge, follow @BigLiftHFX on Twitter,. For more details on the entire Big Lift project, visit


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