Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Stunning new Canadian bridge suffers deck failure

Nipigon River Bridge Aerial View

Engineers in Ontario, Canada are grappling to restore east-west transport links after deck sections on the Nipigon River Bridge disconnected less than two months after the structure was opened to traffic.

The bridge is in the process of a £54M reconstruction by a Ferrovial Agroman/Bot Construction joint venture, with Hatch Mott MacDonald providing construction contract administration. The new bridge was designed by MMM Group in Canada.

nipigon river bridge twitter

Nipigon River Bridge failure via twitter

An expansion joint is understood to have failed

It is understood that an expansion joint in the bridge deck failed on Sunday, causing a deck section to rise by almost 0.5m. The bridge was immediately closed to traffic, effectively severing all east-west transport links through Ontario. By adding counterweights to level the bridge surface, authorities were able to re-open the bridge to light traffic yesterday.

Explained Ontario minister of transportation Steven Del Duca in a statement yesterday: “On Sunday afternoon, the OPP closed the Nipigon River Bridge to traffic due to safety concerns. Ministry staff worked through the night to rectify the situation, using counterweights to level the bridge surface. An engineering inspection was also completed to ensure the safety of the bridge and the travelling public.

”As of this statement, one lane is open for cars and regular weight transports. Staff are continuing to work to determine when oversized trucks can use the bridge.”

Twitter users were quick to post dramatic photos of the bridge, including these from @CCartwright1971.

Nipigon River Bridge

Nipigon River Bridge - twitter pic

Source: @CCartwright1971 / Twitter

Nipigon River Bridge

Nipigon River Bridge - twitter pic

Source: @CCartwright1971 / Twitter

The cable stayed bridge is part of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The four lane bridge is being built in two phases to replace the existing two lane structure. The westbound lane opened to traffic on 29 November after three years of construction. The original bridge has now been closed for demolition to create space for construction of the new eastbound carriageway - a mirror of the westbound carriageway. The eastbound lanes are due to be completed in 2017.

Nipigon river bridge artists impression

Nipigon River Bridge

Artists impression of the unusual three-pylon structure

The new bridge has two spans of 112.8m and 139m. The unusual structural form sees a single pier line comprising three separate pylons connected together below deck and at the foundation level. The superstructure carries a divided highway with widths of 13m. This consists of a 3m shoulder on the north side, two lanes of 3.75m, and a 2.5m shoulder on the south side. 

The deck structure is supported by three planes of stay cables, 11 cables on each side of the pylon for each plane. The deck comprises a grillage of steel beams, three plate girders longitudinally coincident with the three planes of stay cables. Transversely there is a series of steel beams supporting a 225mm precast concrete road deck. The new bridge deck will be topped with 80mm of asphalt as well as a waterproofing system.

The new highway will also have a 3m pedestrian walkway along the north side of the bridge.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.