Kingstonians are getting used to the Waaban Crossing, which is expected to handle thousands of vehicles a day.
Now, researchers from Queen’s University want to make sure the new bridge can handle it, with a “stress test.”
Or, more specifically, to understand the effects that weather has on the structure over the long term.
“We’ve installed a series of sensors on the bearings of the bridge. The bearings are there to allow the bridge to expand and contract under those changes in temperature,” said Josh Woods, one of the two engineering researchers heading up the project.
It seems simple enough, but the project has been going on since last summer, including spending parts of five months hanging off the side of the bridge in the cold while installing the sensors, something Isabel Heykoop says she won’t be forgetting soon.
“I’m not too much of a thrill-seeker but being at that height was pretty exciting to be out there. It was cold, it was freezing, so we were shaking,” said Heykoop, the other half of the project’s brain.
Woods said the bridge itself has a 100-year service life but the data he and Heykoop collect can be applied to similar, future projects to help improve safety.
“Obviously, our primary objective is to ensure that a bridge is safe for its users, but we also want to make sure that it’s durable over the long term,” he said.
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However, he added that there’s no reason to fret when it comes to the Waaban Crossing’s safety.
“A project like the third crossing, a massive infrastructure project, there are really no major threats to worry about. This bridge has been designed with a 100-year service life, and so we don’t expect to find anything major,” he said.
While it will take some time before the data from this endeavour becomes available and can be applied, Heykoop says they’re excited for the opportunity, adding that the project is something that ties her to the city forever.
“It’ll be something that, hopefully, I can share with my family and my friends and maybe one day my children, so it’ll be exciting to just, kind of, show everyone what I’ve been able to develop and see it in the long term.”