‘Big Lift’ Macdonald Bridge re-decking delayed to early 2017

The Macdonald Bridge, connecting Halifax and Dartmouth across Halifax harbour is pictured here on August 16, 2016. The work to replace the entire deck span of the bridge is expected to be complete by fall 2017. Cory McGraw/Global News

The Big Lift project on the Macdonald Bridge has been slowed down again, with officials now estimating the re-decking phase won’t be completed until January or early February, with an even later date for the bike/pedestrian lane.

READ MORE: Macdonald Bridge redecking on schedule for completion by fall 2017

Halifax Harbour Bridges (HHB) said in a release Monday that as segments started being replaced over land in August, the process changed. The Halifax-side of the bridge spans land owned by the Department of National Defense.

“It is significantly more complicated than when working over water and is greatly affected by high winds,” Jon Eppell, project manager for the Big Lift, said in a release.

HHB also projects the sidewalk and bike lane won’t reopen until mid-to-late March.

READ MORE: ‘Big Lift’ project still behind, but workers can make up time: officials

The re-decking of the bridge started over water with segments brought in by a barge — old segments were taken out and lowered onto a barge, then new ones were put in from below.

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The project switched to using cranes to replace the segments in August, once they could no longer lift them from the harbour. Old segments are loaded onto a truck and driven to the Dartmouth side where they are then lowered onto a barge, while new ones are lifted onto the truck and driven to the other side.

In April HHB said they expected the re-decking to be complete by the fall of 2016, as workers sped up the project, replacing two segments each weekend. Officials say the new estimate is four to six weeks later than previously thought. Weekend closures will continue, but the bridge will be open for both Christmas and New Years weekends.

READ MORE: Experts hopeful new Macdonald Bridge safety barriers will be more effective

Steve Snider, HHB general manager and CEO, said they are trying to get the lanes and sidewalk open as soon as possible.

“If possible, we will open the sidewalk and bike lane sooner — as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said in a release.

Due to the delay, HHB says the shuttle service will continue.

The overall Big Lift project is still scheduled for completion by fall 2017. It’s expected this new deck will have a lifespan of 75 years.

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