HALIFAX – The CEO of Halifax Harbour Bridges, HHB, said he is not surprised the Big Lift on the Macdonald Bridge has run into major issues.
Steve Snider said HHB is working to regain confidence from commuters after a series of missteps last week. The bridge did not open on time last Monday due complications from replacing the first deck segment. It also did not open on time last Friday after difficulties with moving the gantry. In addition, two speed bumps on the bridge have led to longer waits on the bridge and more frustrations from drivers as a result.
On Tuesday, HHB announced it will re-commence nighttime closures on the Macdonald Bridge. Closures had been temporarily halted on the bridge while HHB re-assessed the work of the contractor, American Bridge Company.
“They provided us detailed schedules of their work plan. They went through it in detail. Both our engineers and our consultants were satisfied there was no reason to not permit the contractor to move ahead with nighttime closures,” Snider said.
Snider said HHB received a detailed root cause analysis of last week’s late openings. He said one item identified was traction rods during the replacement of the first deck segment. He declined to identify the other root causes.
A decision to close the bridge this upcoming weekend has yet to be reached. Snider declined to explain the criteria the contractor would fulfill to receive a green light for a weekend closure.
The Big Lift is expected to be complete by fall of 2017. Snider dismissed the idea officials were too optimistic about how smoothly the project would run, instead emphasizing there have only been two major delays.
“Our plans were such that we would have no late openings. I believe late openings of several minutes is not to be unexpected. Delayed openings of greater duration, that’s a disappointment. I’m not surprised that we’ve run into major issues ok? But you don’t plan to have major issues, you plan to avoid major issues,” he said.
“I can’t stand here today and promise you there will not be any more late openings. But we are sure as heck working towards and striving for no more late openings. Our performance and our action will have to speak for us in terms of re-gaining the confidence of our customers.”
American Bridge Company was also responsible for the renovations done to the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver. In August 2015, commuters there also saw delays related to the bumps on the bridge. Snider dismissed comparisons between the two bridges.
“The bridges are different. The way the gantry is moved here, my understanding is it’s different from the way the gantry is moved on the Lion’s Gate,” Snider said.
Snider said the contractor may have to pay penalties if the project is not completed on schedule.
Despite the challenges of last week, Snider said he has confidence in the American Bridge Company.
“They were challenged when they went to move the gantry. It was a steep learning curve. They’ve learned a lot. They’ll be able to take this and make use of it when they replace the next segment,” he said.