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Lane closures planned on Ironworkers Memorial Bridge as ‘pothole’ repairs begin

Click to play video: 'Work begins on permanent Ironworkers bridge fix'
Work begins on permanent Ironworkers bridge fix
WATCH: Work is beginning to repair a giant pothole that opened last week on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. The hole appeared in the centre, southbound lane in December and a temporary steel plate is in place for now. – Jan 3, 2023

Drivers using the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge are being warned to expect disruptions overnight as crews work to replace a damaged section of the bridge deck.

The damaged area on the southbound side of the bridge, initially reported as a pothole, cropped up late last week, and has become a traffic headache.

Crews were scheduled to close the southbound centre and right lanes Wednesday night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to replace the damage, which is currently covered by a metal plate.

“Some moisture that was able to get in and what we call delaminated the concrete and created some voids and ultimately pieces of the concrete that were coming out,” deputy Ministry of Transportation director Janelle Staite explained.

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“So it did impact the actual concrete structure, the concrete bridge deck, as well as now we’re taking a look at some of the rebar underneath, so it’s a little bit different than a traditional pothole you would see on an asphalt highway and a little bit of a different repair strategy.”

Repairs are expected to take several nights and could stretch into next week. Crews have set up extensive scaffolding in order to work on the underside of the 62-year-old bridge.

Staite said contractors had cut out a one-by-three-metre section of the bridge deck, and will be laying new rebar and pouring new concrete. They will also be replacing the metal plate with a larger plate.

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Some commuters have described the existing plate as a “speed bump,” and one Reddit user posted a photo Wednesday appearing to show a large bolt sticking out, describing it as a “public safety hazard.”

A bolt can be seen sticking from a plate on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge deck. Courtesy: Chris733066/Reddit

Staite overall said the bridge remains in “good shape,” but requires regular maintenance like all highway assets.

Repairing the bridge, however, is a short-term solution according to the mayor of the District of North Vancouver.

Mike Little told Global News his community and the other two municipalities on the North Shore remain plagued by traffic congestion and at the mercy of the two crossings to the rest of Metro Vancouver.

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“This bridge is not meeting our needs today, and as we nurse life out of it over the next 20 years to try to extend its life we’re never going to get the maximum usage out of it,” he said.

“We need a long-term solution. We need a plan in partnership with the provincial government to both address our current needs but our future needs for our community in the future.”

Little said congestion related to the bridges often stretches out into other parts of the North Shore, affecting local drivers and communities as well as the local economy.

An estimated 135,000 vehicles cross the Ironworkers Bridge every day.

The ministry said it did not yet have an estimate on the cost to repair the bridge deck.

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