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It’s a ‘historic’ day in construction of Edmonton’s new Walterdale Bridge

The new Walterdale Bridge got its second arch on Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The new Walterdale Bridge got its second arch on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News

EDMONTON – The final arch of the new Walterdale Bridge will be put in place Tuesday. The arch weighs 2,000 tonnes and will be lifted 20 metres to reach its height of 54 metres.

“It is a historic moment for Edmonton because the Walterdale Bridge signature arches will be lifted, again, 20 metres, and it’ll become a permanent landmark of our city for generations,” Construction Project Manager Ryan Teplitsky said.

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The work is being livestreamed on the city’s website.

The first arch was lifted into place in January. It’s smaller at 950 tonnes.

READ MORE: First Walterdale Bridge arch lifted into place

The bridge contains 6,000 bolts and 8,000 lbs of welding materials. It took 850,000 hours to build.

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The 54-metre high arches span the width of the North Saskatchewan River and are as tall as the nearby High Level Bridge. Tuesday’s lift is expected to take about eight hours.

“There’s very tight tolerances on this structure, so they have to lift this bridge…or this centre piece which spans 150 metres,” Teplitsky said.

“The tolerances, when it lifts has to be within 15 to 25 millimetres. Once it gets up there, they have to all align perfectly and then they do that final welded connection.”

Bridge deck construction will begin once the arch connections are complete.

The arches were floated into place in November, and sat on temporary platforms while waiting to be hoisted into place by massive winches.

READ MORE: Walterdale Bridge arches to be floated across North Saskatchewan River

The new bridge is replacing the old Walterdale Bridge, which was over 100 years old and at the end of its service life.

The bridge will have three northbound traffic lanes, plus sidewalks. The design does allow for the possibility of adding another lane, however a city document says adding a fourth lane does not align with its Transportation Master Plan, The Way We Move, which calls for greater use of public transit, walking and cycling.

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WATCH: Animation showing the procedure that will be used raise the arches for the new bridge.

Construction on the new bridge began in 2013. It was supposed to be done in fall 2015 but last spring the deadline was pushed back a year because the bridge’s 42 steel beams, which were made in South Korea, began arriving months later than planned.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge facing a lengthy delay

The contractor was set to incur a $10,000 daily fine once the original opening was missed.

On Tuesday, Teplitsky said all the steel is complete and on its way to Edmonton.

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The $155 million bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by late 2016, with the entire project scheduled to be finished in 2017.

“We are on schedule to be open late 2016, but this is the most complicated bridge we’ve ever constructed. There’s a lot of work still left to be done and there is a lot of resources required to get it done,” Teplitsky said.

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The old bridge will be demolished in 2017.

WATCH: Drone history made in downtown Edmonton

The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Margeaux Morin, Global News
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Margeaux Morin, Global News
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Margeaux Morin, Global News
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Margeaux Morin, Global News
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The final arch of the Walterdale Bridge was to be put in place Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Margeaux Morin, Global News