The Process Behind the Walterdale Bridge Project
The construction of the Walterdale Bridge has gone through many ups and downs in addition to unexpected delays. Construction began in 2013 and was scheduled to be finished by the fall of 2015. The project was complex and several challenges delayed the opening of the bridge by two years. A brief look at the project from beginning to end gives an overview of the obstacles that were encountered.
In river berm construction was completed in March. Queen Elizabeth Park Road closed to traffic on July 15 and in August, heavy equipment was used to create new slope grades. Drainage pipes and utility relocations were installed. By September, grading and drainage were completed and 40 sheet pilings were installed on the south side of the river; nine drilled concrete piles were installed on the north side. Queen Elizabeth Park road re-opened for traffic on October 1 and in December, sheet pilings continued to be installed.
From February to December construction continued as scheduled. Walterdale Hill was closed until August. Pile driving was completed. Watertight cofferdams were excavated and backfilled in preparation for the construction of thrust blocks which would serve as foundations and anchors for the arches. Decorative streetlights were installed on Queen Elizabeth Park Road.
On April 8, the city announced the scheduled opening date was pushed back one year from fall 2015 to fall 2016. Delays were related to problems with the contractor’s scheduling. 42 steel arch structures were held up by the manufacturer in South Korea. As a result of the delays, the contractor faced penalties that started at $10,000 and increased to $17,000 per day by November. The first shipment of arch steel arrived in mid January. By October all the steel arches were on site and the North Saskatchewan River was dredged to prepare for the arches to be floated across the river.
In January the first of two major arch lifts took place and by April, the second arch lift was installed. Construction started on the bridge deck in July. The connection from river edge to river edge was finally completed and stringers held the bridge deck in place. Concrete, asphalt and waterproofing work could not be completed before the onset of winter and further delays occurred. Work was scheduled to resume the following spring.
Pieces of the shared use path began arriving on site in April. Installation and welding of sections were completed first and deck and railing work followed. On September 17 two of the three lanes of the bridge were opened to traffic. Crews continue to work on the north side of the bridge but some work could not be completed until the old Walterdale Bridge was officially closed.
The completion of the Walterdale Bridge was a challenging project but the city now has a unique signature bridge that will be able to stand the test of time. The new Walterdale Bridge will require less maintenance than the old steel deck bridge which required constant repairs due to welds breaking.
What is your opinion on the Walterdale Project? Mixed emotions? We would love to hear what you think!