The Macdonald Bridge redecking project is behind schedule by four months, according to the bridge commission.
Since the deck replacements started last October, only seven of the 15 expected to be done by now have been replaced. The deck replacement part of The Big Lift project was supposed to be completed by fall 2016, however, that’s now been pushed back to the end of 2016.
If the project catches up to the 2016 deadline, 39 deck segments will have to be replaced in 38 weeks; so far the average pace has been roughly one deck segment a month. In December, Halifax Harbour Bridges’ CEO Steve Snider said the decks would start being replaced weekly as of February. However that didn’t happen, and Snider said Friday the delays were due to weather and mechanical problems with the hydraulics.
Moving into warmer months he expects the work to pace to pick up.
“We’re going to be performing much better than one-a-month going forward,” Snider said.
The full deck of the bridge is being replaced along with the sidewalk and bike paths while the bridge remains open for week-day commuters. The bridge closes overnight and on weekends, as needed, for the deck-replacement work.
It’s only the second project like this in the world; the first was done on Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge in the early 2000s. However, that project was delayed by almost two years. It was completed in July 2002, but was expected to be done in September 2000.
The same company, American Bridge Company, is responsible for construction on both projects. The experience in Vancouver and the delays already happening in Halifax are concerning downtown Dartmouth business owners who are seeing a stark difference in sales and foot traffic when the bridge is closed on the weekend.
“There are just so many unknowns that I honestly don’t trust the word of the bridge commission as to when the finish date is, because of what I’ve seen through the last year,” Bodega Boutique owner Kate Hamilton said.
Despite the delays, Snider says the project will catch up and “full completion” will still hit the September 2017 target.