Big Lift: Contractors must prove they can meet timelines, says CEO
Good news for Halifax commuters, the Macdonald Bridge will remain open until contractors working on the Big Lift project prove they can meet timelines.
CEO of Halifax Harbour Bridges Steve Snider says the bridge will be open all weekend and in the evenings. He says the earliest the bridge could close is 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“The contractor has been advised that there will be no more nighttime closures,” explains Snider, “until they can demonstrate to us that when they close again, they will be re-opening on schedule.”
The statement comes after the Macdonald Bridge was closed during the morning rush hour for the second time this week.
The bridge was closed overnight and was supposed to reopen at 5:30 a.m. Friday, but crews had trouble moving a piece of equipment that lifts and lowers deck segments.
Officials initially said the bridge would reopen at 8:30 a.m., but it kept getting pushed back. It was thought the bridge would reopen at 1 p.m., but that was pushed back to 2 p.m.
The bridge did reopen shortly after 2 p.m.
Snider estimates the delay cost Halifax Harbour Bridges $50,000 in revenue, but the thousands of people stuck in traffic Friday morning were also paying a price.
The closure resulted in traffic jams across the city, especially during the morning rush hour, and especially on roads leading to the MacKay Bridge.
There were also long lineups at the ferry terminals in Dartmouth and Woodside as commuters scrambled to avoid the traffic tie-ups on city streets and highways.
“This morning we did have increased volumes on our Alderney and Woodside ferries,” says city spokesperson Tiffany Chase. “Two of our trips this morning were full to capacity.”
Several weeks ago, researchers at Dalhousie University predicted what such a situation would look like, and found the first hour of congestion alone would cost $22,000.
“It’s one of five entry points to the downtown core,” explains Ahsan Habib of the Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory. “So it’s quite a significant number.”
As for productivity, one economist says people arriving late to the office would have finished their work on time, but they would have been scrambling.
“It’s bucking down but that’s unpleasant for people and that’s a real cost,” says Dalhousie economic professor Lars Osbert. “Economics is not all dollars and sense, we ought to be thinking about the wellbeing of the citizens of Halifax, of the country as a whole.”
The bridge was also closed during rush hour Monday morning.
More than 100,000 vehicles cross the MacKay and Macdonald bridges every day.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelly Linehan.