News

Bridge arch nearing completion

By Maryanne Firth, St. Catharines Standard

Daytime preparations for placement of support spans of the Burgoyne bridge Wednesday, September 21, 2016.  Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network

Daytime preparations for placement of support spans of the Burgoyne bridge Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network

Piece by piece, crews are bridging the gap on St. Catharines’ new signature structure.

One segment at a time, the eye-catching arch on the $91-million Burgoyne Bridge reconstruction project is taking shape.

The fifth section is to be installed Wednesday night, with adjustments made to all pieces Thursday so the final centre segment “will drop right in” when it’s put in place overnight Monday, Niagara Region public works commissioner Ron Tripp said.

“It all comes down to the top, which is the keystone. (It’s) traditional masonry. The same physics apply to the steel structure.”

Temporary supports are in place between the two bridge spans to hold the arch until installation is completed.

The segments have to be kept slightly separated so the final piece will settle in without issue, Tripp said. Once they come together, the pieces will support one another.

Because of the structural design, the two bottom pieces are heavier and include thicker walls of steel than the top pieces.

Tripp said the bridge arch has become a popular topic of conversation in the community.

“The feedback I’m getting is many folks didn’t realize there would be such a superstructure,” he said. Many people ask whether the arch was included for aesthetics or out of necessity.

“The answer is it’s absolutely necessary. It’s a key structural element of the final bridge.”

The arch, Tripp said, allows for the removal of the temporary steel beneath the bridge “so it’s much more open and clean.”

While the arch segments will be in place by early next week, work on that component of the bridge will continue until the end of October.

“It’s going to take a full month, six days a week around the clock to weld those segments together,” Tripp said. “They’re only temporarily bolted together for now. (Crews) have to weld them so it’s all one continuous structure.”

Transportation of the arch, created by Walters Group Inc. and shipped from Brantford by truck, required that it be built in pieces.

Nightly closures of Highway 406 have become a regular occurrence to allow for the arch to be installed. The highway will, however, remain open Friday to Sunday to accommodate traffic from Niagara Wine Festival.

Closures will resume Monday evening, with the roadway closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Both spans of the bridge are expected to be open to pedestrian and vehicle traffic before the end of the year.

Finishing work on the project will be completed next spring.

mfirth@postmedia.com