Residents of Westmount, Glenora, and Canora are directly impacted by the closure and detours because of the out-of-commission bridge. Commuters to areas in West Edmonton have endured traffic bottlenecks for over a year.
City of Edmonton engineers now predict the bridge will be open for traffic this time next year.
This will be the second winter that the highly used roadway remains closed due to repairs required to the bridge. The 102 Avenue Bridge crosses a ravine with Groat Road below. Area home owners in the Edmonton communities impacted by road detours hoped that the bridge would be open by now.
The coming winter will further postpone completion of the 102nd Avenue bridge, possibly until September 2016, ending the hopes of many people that it would be open sooner.
The hang up on completion of bridge rehabilitation is the bridge deck. Concrete still needs to be poured on the deck, but unlike concrete which is poured in other construction applications, concrete cannot be poured on a brick deck during the winter months.
Under normal conditions, the area would need to be secured under a large tent and the structure heated, which is too risky for a bridge deck high over a ravine and roadway below. Although the bridge contracting company tried to erect a tent, the move was considered too dangerous for bridge crews. In addition, with the heat under a tent on top of the bridge, ice would form below the bridge and fall onto traffic below on Groat Road, which remains open to traffic during the construction process.
Concrete will not cure properly in temperatures below 5C, which would compromise the strength of the bridge decking.
With wind gusts being more prevalent through the ravine, a tent would not be able to withstand anything more than 90 km/h , wind speeds which are not unheard of in Edmonton.
The replacement structure for the 102nd Avenue Bridge over Groat Road is a $32-million project which has been behind schedule since March. Some of the steel girders which were improperly installed buckled. Several girders were removed and transported to a repair shop which put the bridge rehabilitation behind by three months.
Despite working double shifts to get back on schedule, with no days off, the bridge contractor has been unable to catch up and now with winter’s onset, work is delayed until next spring.
Retail businesses in North West Edmonton have endured the road closures and detours since 2014 and are not looking forward to a second Christmas season with lost business. The contractor has agreed to meet with local businesses to offer extra signage or other means of support.
The contractor has also been assessed a late penalty of $11,500 a day.
An Edmonton city councilor has suggested the temporary removal of parking meetings in the 104th Avenue commercial area until 102nd Avenue is reopened. By completely removing street parking from 104 Avenue, there would be better traffic flow for commuters heading to West Edmonton.