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Placentia lift bridge solar panel system exceeding expectations

A solar panel system was installed on the Placentia lift bridge to aid in its operation while awaiting new parts to replace a cable lift that malfunctioned in May.
A solar panel system was installed on the Placentia lift bridge to aid in its operation while awaiting new parts to replace a cable lift that malfunctioned in May. - Glen Whiffen

A new replacement cable reel for the Placentia lift bridge is two weeks overdue from arriving, yet it doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the community anymore.

The lift bridge has been working fine since June 5 after the Department of Transportation and Works installed a temporary solar panel system.

The solar panel system is working so well, in fact, the new cable reel — whenever it may arrive — may not even get installed.

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“The bridge was returned to normal operating capacity on June 5 using the newly installed solar panel system, which stores power for the inclinometer and lights and is not limited by nightfall or other times of low sunlight,” a statement from the department reads.

“Our engineers have been assessing the performance of the solar panel system since it was installed, and based on its performance we are re-evaluating the necessity of installing the cable reel at this time.

“The cable reel is expected to arrive any day now, and can be installed at any time in the future should it be required.”

When the bridge’s cable reel broke just as the crab fishing season was starting this spring, there was an uproar from fishermen and from other citizens of the community as it is the primary link between Jerseyside and Placentia.

Some fishermen could not leave or enter the harbour, while others in smaller fishing boats had to wait for low tide and detach masts and other equipment to squeeze under the bridge safely.

At the time the department said the replacement cable reel would take a month to arrive which angered fishermen who feared their crab season would be greatly impacted.

The $50 million lift bridge — named the Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge — was officially opened in 2016, replacing an aging bridge that was a source of frequent frustration for residents of the Placentia area due to repeated malfunctions.

Placentia Mayor Bernard Power said they are concerned that in just two years, the new lift bridge has had its share of problems. He had asked the department to investigate whether there’s a flaw in the design of the bridge.

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