HALIFAX – Drivers were stuck in traffic that snaked along the approaches to the Macdonald and MacKay bridges this morning, after the Macdonald Bridge was delayed in opening by hours.
The Macdonald Bridge was reopened to traffic around 10 a.m. on Monday morning, nearly five hours behind its scheduled time of 5:30 a.m, just in time for the morning rush.
The delay was a result of an issue in the final stages of The Big Lift, which saw a portion of the new deck be installed over the weekend.
The contractors initially had trouble accessible a bearing, then there were issues in lining up traction rods which hold the deck in place.
“They had some difficulty getting those go to in and adjust them,” said Jon Eppell, chief engineer with Halifax Harbour Bridges.
Commuters all across the city experienced long waits in traffic as they tried to get into Halifax from other communities on other routes, with many people trying to use the MacKay Bridge.
“I had two little kids that I took to school. It took me an hour and twenty minutes to get back what normally takes me five,” said driver Derek Sheppard.
Traffic was at a standstill in some areas of Dartmouth and Cole Harbour.
— Cory McGraw (@McgrawCory) October 19, 2015
Traffic is backed up into Cole harbour pic.twitter.com/ANdSD41Xkf
— Paul Dewitt (@paul_dewitt) October 19, 2015
“I think probably two hours that we are out for the day and we don’t get back,” said commuter Neville Gilfoy. “Quite a bit frustrating.”
Many bus routes in the city were also delayed or operating on detours.
The bridge commission has said on multiple occasions that this first segment installation is the most challenging one and has the biggest learning curve, however, there is no guarantee that this won’t happen with the next five segments like this first one.
“Optimistically, we will not have anymore that go over (time), realistically we have contingency plans that we try and accelerate things and open on time,” Eppell said.
It is expected that the first four segments to be replaced will take several hours, and will happen during weekend closures, but that eventually the time frame of a segment replacement will be about 10 hours, and can be done during overnight closures.