2012 bridge inspections find dozens in poor shape

Barb Sweet
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The Thorburn Lake overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway in central Newfoundland,  during an inspection this past winter. — Photo courtesy of Department of Transportation and Works

Some 51 bridges were found to be in overall poor condition in the latest round of provincial inspections.

That’s based on 253 bridge inspection reports dating back to June 2012. 

Bridges are not necessarily inspected every year. There are 1,134 bridges and culverts over three metres wide in the province’s inventory.

The majority of the inspection reports supplied to The Telegram list bridges in various stages of fair condition — a handful are in good condition.

Of the 51 structures in overall poor condition, eight bridges are on the Avalon Peninsula; 27 in central east; 14 in central west and two in Labrador.

The inspection codes for fair include recommendations for inspection in either one year or two years. Poor condition is classed as repair immediately, repair within one year or repair within three years.

Three of the bridges in poor condition are on the Trans-Canada Highway in the central east region —Shoal Harbour CNR overpass, Thorburn Lake CNR overpass and the E.S. Spencer Bridge.

The E.S. Spencer Bridge is being replaced, with waterproofing and paving of the deck and approaches remaining. The old bridge will be torn down. According to Transportation and Works, the new span should be open in four weeks’.

Both the Shoal Harbour and Thorburn Lake overpasses have been recommended by inspectors for replacement.

The Shoal Harbour structure, located in the central east region and built in 1965, was deemed P3 — repair within three years.

“Disintegration and exposed rebar throughout. Concrete curbs in poor condition,” reads the description of the bridge’s deck. Both the substructure and the superstructure were found to have medium cracking.

The Thorburn Lake overpass, built in 1964, was found to have large cracks in the superstructure, and the concrete bridge rail on the deck was in poor condition. Photos in the inspection report depict the extent of the crumbling concrete.

There are no plans for work on Shoal Harbour or Thorburn Lake this year. The plan is to eventually replace them with culverts, and the department insists they are structurally sound for traffic.

None of the bridges were classified as being in unsafe condition. However, inspectors did comment on bridges that should be replaced and, in cases where they aren’t used for traffic anymore, removed.

Several of the bridges that are in poor condition are used for cabin access or for travel by recreational vehicles, but inspectors found, in some cases, signs warning that the bridges are not maintained have gone missing.

One such structure, Beaver Pond Bridge in central east, east of Chapel Arm, is used frequently by ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts, but it’s in a state that the inspectors recommended it be either rehabilitated or removed. The interior beams are significantly cracked and the rail is gone. A couple others were washed out or overtopped by water during hurricane Igor in 2010 and one was used as a detour at that time.

The inspection reports received by The Telegram this week don’t include west coast inspections, as they were done prior to June 2012 and reported in last year’s special report on bridges.

Meanwhile, work has been tendered to repair six bridges in the province in fiscal 2013-14: North Harbour River, Little Salmonier River, Horwood River, Curtis Causeway, Big Sandy River and Parsons Pond.

Nine bridges have been tendered for replacement — Sir Ambrose Shea Lift, Gull Island River, Outer Cove Brook, Lilly Pond, English Harbour East Panel, two Epworth timber bridges, Main Point, Traverse Brook and the Sir Robert Bond.

The Bond bridge replacement hasn’t been tendered, but some preparation work has started. The full tender, according to the department, will be issued this winter.

Three bridges are on the list to be replaced, with tenders expected to be called this year — Barrys Brook, Shoe Cove North and O’Donnels.

To see some of last year’s bridge inspection coverage, go online to http://bit.ly/MRIW8E.



Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, The Telegram

Geographic location: Shoal Harbour, Thorburn Lake, Labrador.The Chapel Arm North Harbour River Little Salmonier River Horwood River Big Sandy River Gull Island River Traverse Brook Shoe Cove North

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Recent comments

  • Harold
    August 18, 2013 - 08:31

    there is a bridge on Route 91, placentia - colinet road that will soon fall into southeast river. if you want photos, i can provide them.

  • Jennifer
    August 17, 2013 - 15:10

    Telegram, I commented at length on this article this morning. If you are choosing not to publish it would you please be so kind as to explain why?

  • Eli
    August 17, 2013 - 13:01

    PC party disitegrating under Dunderdale the same way. But to be fair, Williams was the instigator, she was stund enough to ensure it's total destruction.

  • Jennifer
    August 17, 2013 - 08:19

    It's a good thing that the government is finally making note of these road hazards. I have an idea for their next project: scour the province for damaged, missing and dangerously weak highway guard rails. Just on the northeast Avalon alone there are more than several places along my family's daily commute where one of the more dangerous things on the road are the so-called "guard" rails. More of a danger than a safety device in many cases. Highway accidents cause damage which appears to be seldom repaired and snow and rainwater have washed away shoulders so that the posts the rails are attached to are sometimes suspended in space.. hanging on to the next ones. Please. Send the inspectors out. I'm sure they've seen it all before on their commutes, but maybe they'll urge action on getting them repaired/replaced. Thank you PS: I encourage residents to take photos of damaged/missing guard rails and send them to ther MHA and to Minister Davis.

    • Jackson II
      August 18, 2013 - 20:20

      A fat lot of good it will do to send photos to Paul Davis. He's been part of a government that never had so much income and fritted it away. Take a drive "around the bay" starting in Paradise. The condition of this historical highway through Topsail, Manuels, Long Pond right through to Holyrood and beyond to Carbonear is a damned disgrace.