Damaged northern Ontario bridge partially reopened

A multimillion-dollar bridge offering the sole east-west route across part of northern Ontario has been partially reopened after sustaining serious damage over the weekend, provincial officials said Monday.

NIPIGON, Ont. — A multimillion-dollar bridge offering the sole east-west route across part of northern Ontario has been partially reopened after sustaining serious damage over the weekend, provincial officials said Monday.

Both the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Transportation confirmed that one lane of the Nipigon River Bridge has reopened.

A statement from Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says the lane is available to cars and regular-weight transport trucks, but said engineers are still working to determine whether it can sustain the weight of oversized trucks.

Del Duca said staff worked through the night in order to reopen a route that the province’s premier described as critically important.

“As soon as I heard about the closure of the bridge I was concerned because it is the lifeline in terms of product and transportation in northwestern Ontario,” Kathleen Wynne said. “It connects the east to the west, and there is only that one route.”

The OPP closed the bridge indefinitely on Sunday afternoon when part of the steel decking on the western side separated about 60 centimetres from the rest of the structure. There were no injuries reported, and pedestrians were still able to make use of the bridge.

Word of the partial reopening came as a relief to local businesses, said Dan Bevilacqua, manager of the North of Superior Travel Association.

He said companies were bracing to function without bridge access for anywhere from two days to a full month, adding that the flow of supplies wasn’t even the main concern.

“I think what people were worried about is just essentially the country being split in two,” he said. “Here in Nipigon, we are at the middle of the country. Everything has to come through this area. … It was more concern for travellers.”

No one has yet offered an estimate as to when the bridge, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway and spans the Nipigon River, will be fully functional.

Nor is there any word as to what caused the separation, an issue Wynne said the government is determined to “get to the bottom of.”

The Ontario government began building what it touts as the province’s first cable-stayed bridge in 2013 and opened westbound lanes to two-way traffic in November. The project, which the government pegs at $106 million, is due to be completed in 2017.

Ontario Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle is planning to visit the site on Monday to assess the extent of the damage, and Del Duca is planning to inspect the site on Wednesday.

The nearby municipality of Greenstone declared a state of emergency on Sunday after the bridge was closed. There was no immediate word as to whether it had been lifted in light of the partial reopening.

Ontario’s New Democrats said the failure of the bridge “shows the Liberal government’s mismanagement of northern Ontario’s roads and highways.”

“Many companies in northern Ontario depend on the bridge to transport product across the country,” said Wayne Gates, the party’s transportation critic. “This will hurt industry, and many small communities will be economically impacted with less motorists passing through.”

Just Posted

No charges for Alberta officer who ran over injured deer

LETHBRIDGE — A southern Alberta police officer caught on video repeatedly running… Continue reading

Alberta wants to bring back elections for nominees to fill Senate vacancies

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government plans to bring back elections for… Continue reading

Canada extends leadership of NATO training mission in Iraq to November 2020

OTTAWA — Canada will lead a NATO training mission in Iraq until… Continue reading

Trudeau off to G20 summit, hoping for global help in disputes with China

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to a… Continue reading

With a third of 2015 MPs not running, NDP turnover highest in at least 20 years

OTTAWA — When the federal election campaign gets underway in earnest, parties… Continue reading

No charges for Alberta officer who ran over injured deer

LETHBRIDGE — A southern Alberta police officer caught on video repeatedly running… Continue reading

Alberta wants to bring back elections for nominees to fill Senate vacancies

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government plans to bring back elections for… Continue reading

Canada extends leadership of NATO training mission in Iraq to November 2020

OTTAWA — Canada will lead a NATO training mission in Iraq until… Continue reading

With a third of 2015 MPs not running, NDP turnover highest in at least 20 years

OTTAWA — When the federal election campaign gets underway in earnest, parties… Continue reading

Trudeau off to G20 summit, hoping for global help in disputes with China

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to a… Continue reading

Ontario woman nearly dies — twice — after snake bite in Thailand

Ontario woman nearly dies — twice — after snake bite Shalabha Kalliath’s… Continue reading

Goalie Roberto Luongo retires after 19 NHL seasons

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida goalie Roberto Luongo has decided to retire after… Continue reading

Europe, you’re up! Yankees top Blue Jays 8-7, head to London

Yankees 8 Blues Jays 7 NEW YORK — Buckingham Palace and Westminster… Continue reading

Most Read