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Emergency repair on MacKay Bridge highlights further work to be done in coming years


Emergency repairs shut down part of the MacKay Bridge in Halifax after a crack was detected in a steel truss.

The issue was discovered Wednesday night by a painting crew. Halifax Harbour Bridges (HHB) says the engineering team was alerted, at which time a partial closure took place in order to get repairs done.

The bridge commission says the crack was smaller than two centimetres in length. No other cracks were found, and it says there was no threat to safety.

The bridge fully reopened around 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

HHB CEO Tony Wright says bridge closures aren’t taken lightly and there will likely be more over the next several years to deal with maintenance on the aging bridges.

“At present we’re going through what we refer to as a seal and paint program, where we’re taking all the steel back down to bare steel and then recoating it, and along the way doing structural repairs to it. Replacing the bearings and expansion joints, and essentially when we`re done that program we’ll have a new MacDonald Bridge,” said Wright.

Wright says a lot of the work in recent years have been focused on the MacDonald Bridge – mostly notably the ‘Big Lift.’

That project began in 2015 and saw all 46 deck segments replaced over roughly two years.

It’s now something being considered for the MacKay.

“We refer to that as a major rehabilitation project, and we`re evaluating the feasibility of doing the rehabilitation similar to what we`ve done on the MacDonald Bridge,” said Wright. “Although, this particular bridge, the MacKay, was built substantially different. It was built very economically back in the seventies, but we need to do our homework and see if it`s possible.”

More closures are expected this summer on both bridges as part of the commission’s $40 million capital renewal, although it’s too early to say how many and when. 

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