Halifax’s MacDonald Bridge gets a ‘Big Lift’

Halifax Harbour Bridges is replacing the entire suspension structure of the MacDonald Bridge. The project has begun and alternate transportation has been made available by the city during bridge closures.

The Angus L. MacDonald Bridge is now 60 years old. The entire suspension structure will be replaced between now and the fall of 2017.

The project is expected to cost around $150 million – funded entirely by bridge tolls. The bridge toll increased by 25 cents in 2011, and has made this possible.

How it will work

Construction is starting on the Dartmouth side. The bridge will be replaced in 10 to 20m sections at a time, each one taking around three days to complete.

You can check out the Big Lift website for videos on how the construction will happen.

Why it’s necessary

Alison MacDonald is the communications manager at Halifax Harbour Bridges. She says the MacDonald Bridge is safe, but as it is 60 years old it has become corroded. The Big Lift will extend the life of the bridge by at least three decades. It will also reduce future maintenance costs.

Bridge closures

Closures started March 1. From Sunday to Thursday the bridge will be closed from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. There will also be 12 full weekend closures within the next 18 months. The dates of the weekend closures haven’t been announced yet. This means drivers will be able to use the bridge on weekdays, and most weekends.

Altered bus routes

Halifax Transit is providing bus shuttles every 10 to 15 minutes that will go from the bus stop outside of Scotia Square on Barrington Street to the Bridge Terminal in Dartmouth. During weekdays and most weekends the shuttles will go over the MacDonald Bridge and the journey will take a total of 12 minutes. During bridge closures, the shuttles will go over the MacKay Bridge and take a total of 35 minutes.

Glen Bannon, a manager of transit operations with Halifax Transit, says the ferry will run more frequently during this project. On weekdays it will run between 6 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., as well as every 30 minutes on Sundays between 6:30 a.m. and 11:45 p.m.

Walkers and bikers

The bike and walking lanes will be removed at the end of June, and will not be reopened until December 2016. A free shuttle service will be provided for those who walk or bike across the bridge all day, everyday. Halifax Harbour Bridges bought 17 shuttles, each with a bicycle trailer that can carry up to 12 bikes.

The Dartmouth location for shuttle pickup and drop off is 30 Faulkner St., next to the bridge. The Halifax location has not been decided yet.

Completion

The entire project is expected to be over in the fall of 2017. Bridge closures will be finished within 18 months from now. Construction will continue, but everything that requires the bridge to be closed will be finished.

Alison MacDonald says the bridge will feel more like the MacKay Bridge when the project is over.

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