Halifax Harbour Bridges says it has no choice but to close the MacKay for the next two weekends to do repair work, with the company admitting there’s “no good time” to close a span.
The MacKay will be shut down from Friday at 7 p .m. until Monday at 5:30 a.m. on the weekends beginning Nov. 24 and Dec. 1.
The 53-year-old bridge needs “critical maintenance,” including the replacement of two 10,000-kilogram deck sections where recent inspections found the cracking of steel plates.
“There is no good time to close one of our bridges, but unfortunately more full closures are going to be necessary as the structures require an increasing amount of maintenance as they age,” said HHB CEO Tony Wright in a statement.
Wright went on to say that planning for the work has taken months, and there are specialized workers from across the country on site.
HHB had initially delayed the construction work last weekend to accommodate the annual Parade of Lights. That parade, however, ended up being postponed until Nov. 25 due to a storm.
“Unfortunately, with winter weather approaching, we can’t delay any longer,” Wright said.
The weekend closures mean the Macdonald Bridge will be the only bridge open between Halifax and Dartmouth.
Both HHB and Halifax Transit are advising parade-goers to make plans on arriving early and staying late, because of congestion.
The work on the MacKay will require a 100-tonne crane to remove each deteriorating section, which will be replaced with a new section manufactured in Dartmouth.
Then, workers will be paving the bridge to integrate the sections.
The future of the MacKay Bridge, where about 60,000 vehicles cross each day, has been under scrutiny for years.
HHB has said it is looking at expanding from four lanes to a six-lane bridge, with dedicated lanes for public transit and an additional sidewalk and bikeway. That long-term project has been estimated to be more than $1 billion.
Bridge engineers are currently “studying options” for the current rehabilitation effort.
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