Work begins on the crux of the Bowen Road expansion project today (Aug. 23) as the Island’s largest construction crane moves into place to install the new Quarterway Bridge deck.
The former 12-metre bridge, the trigger for the entire $11.1-million project, has been disassembled, paving the way for the new span, which will be 18 metres long and will have a profile 1.5 metres higher.
Jan Mongard, project manager, said a 275-tonne crane will be lifting 12 bridge girders into place throughout the day to install the new deck.
“It’s huge, but cranes this size are common in the industry now as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago,” he said. “Technology on bridges have developed and the efficiencies are the key. This crane can be positioned in such a way to pick up the girders from the road and place them on the bridge in one swing.”
The project has been mostly dormant for a few days as crews waited for the newly formed concrete bridge abutments to dry and achieve their design strength, though crews have put in place the road support backfill in the meantime.
Traffic at the site will be reduced to single lane alternating flow for much of the day as the bridge is constructed.
The public can watch the work being done in real time at www.nanaimo.ca by clicking on the ‘I want to …’ tab and then the ‘learn about’ tab.
Mongard said the project remains on schedule to meet its Oct. 31 deadline.
Along with the bridge, an 800-metre stretch of Bowen Road is being converted to four lanes to better handle the estimated 16,000 vehicles that travel through the corridor daily. Turn lanes will also be installed so drivers can access nearby businesses safely.
The project, which began in March 2011, is one of the most expensive road work projects in the city’s history. It will provide improved access for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians traveling to and from the downtown core.
Once the bridge is complete, sidewalks, landscaping and streetlights will be installed with final paving expected to be completed in October.
Road work uses up the bulk of the budget at $6.3 million, while completed utility work cost $2.2 million. The bridge itself will cost $1.2 million.
Bowen West sports field, used as a staging area for machinery and materials, is currently being restored with improved drainage at a cost of $200,000.