Macdonald Bridge won’t close again until Tuesday after week of traffic snarls

HALIFAX – This morning’s commute turned into another traffic snarl, frustrating motorists, thanks to more complications with The Big Lift mega-project.

After two major delays this week, Halifax Harbour Bridges (HHB) says there will be no further closures of the bridge until at least Tuesday.

“It is unacceptable to not open the bridge on a regular basis,” Allison Currie of HHB told Global News Friday afternoon.

They bridge finally reopened at about 2:30 p.m., nearly 9 hours behind schedule.

All vehicle traffic was detoured to the MaKay Bridge, resulting in long waits and tie-ups. There was also extra ferry traffic this morning.

READ MORE: No extra ferry service if bridge delays continue

Snider says it’s been frustrating for everyone. They’ve told the contractor, American Bridge Canada Corporation, they need some guarantees before work can proceed.

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“We will be ceasing night time closures on this project until such time that they could demonstrate to us that they could meet their scheduled closures and be able to reopen on times in the mornings,” Snider said on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got a lot of phone calls today. I don’t blame our customers.”

The Macdonald Bridge, once it re-opens, will remain open this weekend and there will not be another nighttime closure before Tuesday.

“We’ll see how things go on Monday,” Currie said.

HHB CEO Steve Snider said it was too early to say whether the contractor would face penalties for the delays that occurred this week. However he says reviews are being conducted to determine the root causes of the delays and to problem-solve moving forward.

Friday delay

The Macdonald Bridge normally re-opens to traffic at 5:30 a.m. after the nighttime closures. However, a delay early Friday morning pushed that back to 8:30 a.m., then again to indefinitely.

Currie said the issue revolves around the gantry, which is the yellow piece of equipment on the bridge that lifts the deck segments.

Currie said crews were trying to move the gantry into place for work this weekend but had some difficulty moving it. There were no further details about what that difficulty is.

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This is the first time the gantry has been moved during The Big Lift. The work should have been done 10.5 hours during the overnight closure but there was the unexpected delay.

Snider said Friday morning that he doesn’t think this week will be indicative of the rest of the project. He also says the delay is not up to the standards that HHB holds itself to.

“We feel horrible about this. It’s not how HHB operates,” he said. “I don’t blame the public for being mad as hell at us. It’s frustrating for them, it’s frustrating for us. I truly understand them being frustrated with us.”

“The big lift is a big pain for me, travelling on the bus, it’s been bumper to bumper traffic and it’s made me late for numerous appointments,” said one driver.

The bridge also didn’t open on time Monday after a delay in the installation of the first segment of the bridge’s new deck.

“It seems to me it would be better if they closed the damn thing,” said Dave Carter, who thinks the overnight closures are the wrong appriach. “Eat crow, put up with it, and get it done so people can get back to work as normal because it’s frustrating.”

Currie said the delay has no connection to the bump that drivers have experienced since the new deck segment was put into place. The “big bump” on the Macdonald has forced many drivers to slow down as they approach it, causing long waits on the bridge and in the approaches to the bridge.

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Halifax Harbour Bridges averages a revenue of 100-thousand dollars a day. But Snider says “more critical for our city is the impact this will have on businesses, on people who are earning wages by the hour, so this is not acceptable and it’s got to be changed.”

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