by Alicia McCutcheon
LITTLE CURRENT—Just in time for its 100th birthday in 2013, the iconic Little Current swing bridge will, from top to bottom, have been completely made over and ready for many more years of service, ending with a new paint job this fall.
“Since 2005, the ministry has invested over $9.2 million to coat the substructure and replace the deck and riding surface,” said Gordan Rennie, regional issues and media advisor for the Northeast region of the Ministry of Transportation. “The final project in this comprehensive, multi-year rehabilitation program is the structural coating of the upper structure, which is scheduled to begin this November once the maritime navigation season is over.”
Glavin Coating and Refinishing of Zurich, in southwestern Ontario, has been awarded the job and proprietor Jack Glavin said his company has plenty of experience with bridges, even of the swinging variety, having worked on the Walpole Island swing bridge.
“The work will be done from 7 am to 7 pm, six days a week starting in November,” he explained, noting that there would be two crews of 12-15 working on the bridge.
An enclosed deck will be built above the roadway with the work commencing from the top. “The bottom 15 feet will happen after January,” Mr. Glavin added. “Our schedule has us finished in March, weather permitting. I’m sure there will be a nice balmy breeze coming up the North Channel,” he laughed.
All of the sandblasting and painting below the bridge deck was finished two years ago by a previous construction crew, he added.
Islanders may see 20-minute delays while the work deck is being created, Mr. Galvin explained. “It will just be periodical,” he said.
Once the bridge has been sandblasted, the crew will apply three coats of a zinc epoxy urethane system that “should last 25 to 30 years,” Mr. Glavin said.
The bridge, built in 1913 for the Algoma Eastern Railway, was converted to accommodate dual rail/road traffic in 1945. Then, in 1982, the bridge was acquired by the Ministry of Transportation and modified for highway use only.
“The bridge has had regular rehabilitation and maintenance since construction,” Mr. Rennie said. “A ministry study done prior to accepting the bridge in 1982 determined that the bridge had many years of service life remaining and that future rehabilitation would prolong the life of the bridge. Since that time, the ministry has undertaken a comprehensive rehabilitation program to ensure that the bridge continues to operate well and serves the needs of highway motorists.”
From 1999-2001, a $3.2 million project was carried out to upgrade the bridge’s mechanical and electrical systems, Mr. Rennie continued, and was followed by a $1.2 million project in 2002 to upgrade the concrete pier.