TORONTO, Ont. — Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said today in a teleconference update with industry and media that he is confident the Nipigon bridge will open to two lanes (one each way) by the end of February.
After the Nipigon Bridge split in mid-January because of extremely cold temperatures, experts and engineers will soon decide on one of two options to reconnect the bridge, said Del Duca. After deciding, construction will begin over the next six weeks. Del Duca warned construction will likely mean the bridge will have to be closed temporarily – during off-peak times and overnight. He explained that he expects the full closures to last between one and two hours at a time, since there is still no alternative road around the bridge other than to enter through the US.
Currently, traffic is alternating eastbound and westbound and is moving across a single lane at 25 km/h. Commercial vehicles are being escorted across. In addition, after the bridge split initially, an emergency contingency plan was put into place so carriers also have the option to transport Canadian domestic goods in-transit through the US.
Del Duca added that with the help of Western University’s engineering department and the National Research Council of Canada (who are looking into why the bolts failed), he is sure their findings will provide solutions to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.