MacKay Bridge closed for the weekend

November 29, 2023

Closure: Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 PM to Monday, Dec. 4 at 5:30 am

The MacKay Bridge will be closed again this weekend as workers replace the second of two multi-tonne deck panels that showed indications of fatigue cracks.

“Last weekend’s effort was a success,” said Halifax Harbour Bridges CEO Tony Wright. “Once the original deck section was removed, the new section built at Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth was installed without any issues. The Dexter/Cherubini team performed admirably.”

The project involved 90 workers and required a 100-tonne crane to remove and replace the 10m x 5.5m panels. More than 2,000 structural bolts needed to be removed from the old plate and new ones installed to hold the new plate in place.

The same work will be repeated this weekend on a different section of the bridge.

Wright acknowledged the MacKay closure contributed to long traffic line-ups throughout the city.

“I think it speaks to the critical nature of the MacKay Bridge and underscores the need to keep it well maintained so that there aren’t any unplanned emergency closures for safety reasons,” says Wright. “Nevertheless, everyone at HHB understands the impact a closure like this has and we are grateful that most bridge users understand the need to get this work done.”

He noted the planning for the work began in the Spring and requires specialized workers from across Canada.  

HHB tries to avoid full bridge closures whenever possible, but when it is not possible – like when a crane blocks the entire deck – the work is done on the weekend when the traffic volumes are reduced. Even at this time of year, weekend traffic on the MacKay is just 60 per cent of weekday traffic.

While several deck sections on the MacKay have been replaced since 2010, the recent weekend efforts mark the first removals driven by fatigue issues.

 “We have studies that suggest we should expect to see more fatigue issues in the coming years, but we should be able to get better information by studying the panels we removed. It should give us an indication of what we need to prepare for,” said Chief Engineer Ahsan Chowdhury.

Chowdhury reiterated that the bridge is safe, and the cracking discovery shows the rigorous inspection program works. He added that it is important to finish the replacements before winter weather makes the execution impossible.