Engineers are conducting an inspection of the St. Louis Bridge after a large crack was found in the structure last week.
© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
The St. Louis Bridge is shown in the background behind the bison statue in the community south of Prince Albert last May. The bridge has been closed recently.
The Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure ordered the bridge closed after staff members noticed the crack.
Ministry spokesperson Doug Wakabayashi said the date of the bridge’s re-opening will depend on the outcome of the inspections.
“Our engineers took a look at (the crack) and determined the bridge needed to be closed until a more thorough inspection was done,” Wakabayashi said on Monday.
“We do have engineers onsite today,” he added. “Other than that, there’s no updated information at this time.”
A detour route has been created for traffic attempting to drive around the bridge.
Northbound traffic has been diverted east on Highway 25 and then north on Highway 3 at Birch Hills.
The route is the same but reversed for southbound traffic, which must travel south on Highway 3 and then west on Highway 25.
“We apologize for the inconvenience to motorists … Obviously the bridge has been closed for safety reasons,” Wakabayashi said.
“We do have engineers onsite conducting inspections and depending on what they see, further inspections may be required. But we’ll try … to re-open the bridge as soon as possible.”
Our engineers took a look at (the crack) and determined the bridge needed to be closed until a more thorough inspection was done. Doug Wakabayashi
At almost 100 years old, the aging St. Louis Bridge is reaching the end of its lifespan, with concerns mounting over safety issues and the inability of the bridge to carry primary weight loads (the highest legal load limit for shippers in Saskatchewan).
The provincial government is currently constructing a new bridge on Highway 2 over the South Saskatchewan River into St. Louis, which will be located 1.6 kilometres east of the old bridge.
While the bridge has seen delays due to problems with girder delivery, construction appears to be back on track.
“We’re just waiting right now to thicken up the ice on the river and the contractor will be installing the girders for the new bridge this winter,” Wakabayashi said.
“We expect to have the new bridge open to traffic towards the end of the 2014 construction season.”
The precise date of completion in fall 2014 will depend on weather and contractor progress.
The existing bridge will then be closed to traffic following completion of the new bridge.