A car falling victim to a damaged expansion joint was the cause of traffic tangles on the bridge crossing the Battle River along Highway 40 Thursday night.
The Executive Director of Communications with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure Doug Wakabayashi said at least one car was damaged from passing over the failed joint. RCMP arrived shortly after and closed the bridge for several hours as they investigated. It was reopened late Thursday but was limited to one lane of travel as crews examined the damage.
An expansion joint is not load bearing. It helps prevent cracking in the deck of the bridge by allowing it to expand in the summer and contract in the winter as temperatures fluctuate.
Wakabayashi said the ministry is now in the process of making arrangements to perform a temporary repair, but the joint will have to be replaced.
He said short term repairs will allow vehicles to travel over the damaged portion of the bridge. This is anticipated to be completed Friday and will cause the closure of both lanes for a few hours as maintenance personnel ensure the joint does not fail in the other lane.
Flag people or temporary singles will be in place and a reduced speed limit, likely to last until the joint is replaced, will be implemented.
The fix will be monitored over the winter and a permanent repair will be completed as soon as possible in the spring, he said.
The bridge was scheduled for rehabilitation work in the upcoming construction season, though Wakabayashi said the ministry was not aware of any issues with the joint.
The failure, he said, is not a common occurrence, and could possibly be chalked up to wear and tear.
“A bridge is a structure much like a building or house, and with age, things do need to be repaired from time to time and also things do break,” he said.
While the failure is concerning in the sense that there is an impact on traffic and will cause some delays, he said there is no public safety concern.
“Bridges are a series of components and they are designed that if something happens to one component rest of the structure won’t fall down,” he said.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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