Are you overloaded and overdimensioned? Then rejoice, for the Pine Point Bridge connecting Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation to Hay River is open again.
While we initially reported the bridge had opened ahead of schedule, the territorial government contacted us after publication to state the work had in actual fact come in late.
According to the Department of Infrastructure, the bridge’s reopening on November 6 was around a week later than planned.
Asked by Cabin Radio in November last year how long construction would take, the department had replied that “all work is scheduled to be complete by November 15, 2019.” Hence, November 6 would appear to beat that deadline by more than a week.
However, on Thursday, the department said that while this was the contract end date, in actuality the bridge was supposed to reopen by the end of October. (Though government requests to make clear that work was completed late, not early, are unusual, we are happy to set the record straight.)
During the time the original Pine Point Bridge was demolished and rebuilt, traffic was diverted over a decommissioned CN rail bridge that runs parallel to the highway.
The railway bridge was given a timber driving surface and opened to single-lane traffic in early February. However, as it was only 4.5 metres wide, oversized loads needed permits. Pedestrians were not allowed to cross.
The newly opened bridge is 10 metres wide, nearly two metres more than the one it replaced.
“The truss bridge was installed in 1965 when standard trucks were much smaller and lighter. Traffic has changed significantly since that time and the bridge has aged,” Ann Kulmatycki, a manager at the Department of Infrastructure, told Cabin Radio last November.
She said the new bridge’s lifespan is 75 years, although it could last longer with proper maintenance.
The bridge rebuild was contracted to Nisku, Alberta-based Eiffage Innovative Canada Inc, at a cost of nearly $13 million.