The old St. Louis Bridge, located about 30 kilometres from Prince Albert, has been a problem when travelling on Highway 2 for a number of years.
© Submitted photo
The girders are about halfway up for the new St. Louis Bridge, which is located about 1.6 kilometres away from the existing bridge.
During the winter months, there were many issues with the bridge, including a crack causing the bridge to be shut down for repairs.
Since there have been so many issues with the 100-year old bridge, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure has been working on a new bridge, located 1.6 kilometres from the existing bridge.
“Basically, they started installing girders in mid to late February,” Ministry spokesperson Joel Cherry said. “They have more than half the girders in place now and are on track to have them all installed in the next two or three weeks.”
They are hoping to have all the girders installed before the river thaws this spring.
“That should be enough time to get them all installed before the river thaws,” Cherry said. “Once that is done, it will be a matter of doing the actual surface during the summer construction season and we hope to have the bridge done in the fall.”
Cherry said they are happy with the progress so far.
“Generally speaking that type of work is done during the winter because the frozen river gives you a platform to work off of, so they put cranes on the ice and used those to lift the girders into place,” Cherry said.
During this type of work, they will often flood the ice so it is thicker for the equipment, he said.
“They waited until the ice was thick enough and once it was they put the crane in place and they get those girders up while the water is still frozen,” Cherry said. “The actual surface of the bridge is build on top of those girders after that.”
Although many residents of St. Louis have expressed concerns about the new bridge being 1.6 kilometres away, Cherry said there were many reasons for the new location.
“It was put there because it has the best conditions for the foundation of the bridge as well as the best alignment for proper sight lines so you can see the furthest driving there,” Cherry said. “It also had a lower impact on agricultural land because it follows an existing north south road allowance.”
The plan is to change the Highway 2 route so it will flow over the new bridge when it is completed and the old bridge will most likely be closed at that point, Cherry said.
“I’m not sure what will be done with it after that though,” he added.
Building a new bridge is very important for the province, Cherry said.
“Obviously it is an important project because the existing bridge is 100 years old and it wasn’t built to the same standards, so it couldn’t sustain the heavy traffic that the rest of Highway 2 can,” Cherry said. “Once the new bridge is built, it is kind of the last piece in a puzzle.
“Basically all the way from Assiniboia, which is way down in southern Saskatchewan, to La Ronge, which is the north, there is going to be close to a 700-kilometre primary weight quarter. That means the trucks will be able to haul the heaviest weights allowable on that entire stretch.”