By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
MACDOUGALLS – When the winter ice melts, it can be expected that extensive repairs will have to take place on major roadways across the province as necessary repairs are unable to take place during the colder months.
Now that warmer weather has reached the province, motorists are having to be extra careful when traveling across McDougalls Gulch Bridge, as repair work has begun once again to fix numerous issues that have been plaguing the bridge for years.
Motorists travelling the Trans Canada Highway have had to deal with recurring cracks and potholes in the bridge due to the structure itself shifting during the winter months.
The potholes, some of which were deep enough to puncture tires and and bend rims, have been patched numerous times, but the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, stated that the work this year will be far more extensive.
“The work on McDougalls Bridge includes replacing the expansion joints, concrete repairs to the structure, paving the bridge, and paving the sections of highway leading to the bridge. This year’s work is a structural rehabilitation of the bridge, which is important to ensure the department maximizes the bridge’s life.”
The department said they were aware of the structural issues, but did what they could to keep the bridge stable until it was able to be fully restored.
“Patching repairs from previous years is a part of routine maintenance until undergoing a more substantial rehabilitation.”
Patching repairs, which involve asphalt repair on the top one to two inches of the existing asphalt surface, is a budget-friendly solution for small surface areas on roadways that serves as a temporary fix while awaiting more permanent solutions, as the repair generally only lasts for two years before requiring further attention.
The department said McDougalls Bridge is not the only bridge which will be receiving repairs this year.
“The repairs on McDougalls Gulch Bridge on the Trans Canada Highway is part of a contract awarded to Complete Concrete Solutions Ltd. for approximately $1.8 million this spring to repair five bridges in the region.”
The other four bridges that are included in the contract are the following:
· Grandys Brook Bridge
· Pynn’s Brook Bridge
· Isle Aux Morts River Bridge
· Barasway Brook Bridge
The department said there is a selection criterion that they use to decide which roads are going to be focused on during the construction season.
“Roads selected for each year of the department’s roads plans are based on factors such as safety, traffic volumes, input from the department’s engineers; commercial, industry, and tourism impacts; populations serviced. It also includes the impacts of climate change, resulting in an increased focus on bridge and culvert repairs and replacements.”
The department didn’t have a specific date in which they anticipated the work to be completed; however, they don’t expect it to continue into next year. All work should finish during the current construction season.