New docs reveal structural concerns over Tittle Bridge prior to collapse

Click to play video: 'Person taken to hospital after bridge near Canso, N.S. collapsed'
Person taken to hospital after bridge near Canso, N.S. collapsed
Video captured the moment when a tractor trailer hauling heavy equipment across the Title bridge near Canso, N.S. collapsed Tuesday. Jesse Thomas has more – Jul 8, 2020

New documents show inspectors had identified concerns with a bridge in Nova Scotia’s Guysborough County before its dramatic collapse this summer.

In July, Tittle Bridge in Guysborough County collapsed as contractors with Alva Construction were transporting heavy equipment across the bridge in a large truck. The gear was to be used to replace the bridge.

The collapse of the bridge, which was built in 1950, resulted in one worker being sent to hospital for observation. It also cut off road access for the approximately 30 residents of Durrell’s Island.

That lasted for approximately a week until the province was able to build a temporary causeway.

New documents, released through a freedom of information request, provide new information about the status of the bridge before it was replaced.

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During a “Level 1” inspection, carried out on April 14, 2020, an inspector noted the bridge’s mainland abutment — that is, the part of the bridge that connected the deck of the bridge to the ground — was tipping and that some of the bridge’s wing walls had rot.

The inspector’s report rated those areas as “fair” and “poor,” respectively. But those issues were important enough for the inspector note they were a concern.

Click to play video: 'Steel bridge near Canso, N.S., collapses'
Steel bridge near Canso, N.S., collapses

Yet the report noted that no follow-up would be necessary and that the overall rating of the bridge was “fair.”

A previous report, dated July 25, 2019, had raised the same issues but included a note that the bridge was already slated to be replaced.

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Nova Scotia’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said it would not comment on the reports, saying the investigation into the bridge’s collapse is ongoing.

The investigation is being conducted by Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

The documents in the freedom of information request include technical drawings, inspection reports and permits issued regarding the bridge.

The April 2020 and July 2019 reports were Level 1 inspections, which are visual inspections of all Nova Scotia bridges that must take place each year between April 1 and July 31.

A more thorough inspection, known as a “Level 2,” allows inspectors to identify structural problems or safety concerns which may not be evident during a Level 1 inspection. Level 2 inspections are supposed to occur every two to six years, depending on the type of road the bridge is on and the condition of the bridge.

The most recent inspection done on Tittle Bridge, which is detailed in the April 14, 2020 report, was a Level 1 inspection.

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