Bridge Damage at Nipigon Closes Hwy 17 – NO Travel through Northern Ontario

At 3:35 p.m. today, the Nipigon Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police advised that the bridge on Highway 17 has been closed for an indefinite time due to mechanical issues.

The newly-constructed Nipigon River Bridge has split in the cold. The damage could have a serious impact on Canadian travel.

#OPP Sgt. Greg Moore said ''an expansion joint has failed, raising a portion of the bridge about two feet. The bolds holding the girder to the bearing have broken on the north side.''

The OPP became aware of the issue around 3:05 p.m. and engineers have already been mobilized to fly from Southern Ontario to assess the damage.  

"Nothing is getting across that bridge and at this point, we're waiting for engineers to assess the damage," Moore said.

The expansion joint failure cuts the only link connecting Eastern and Western Canada.

 "There's no question about it. I could not be more concerned and I'm trying to find out as much as I can, as quickly as I can."

Highway 17 traffic is being turned back to Terrace Bay and commercial vehicles are being encouraged to travel west through the United States at the border crossing in Sault Ste. Marie.  

UPDATE Road Closure: #Nipigon - Nipigon River Bridge is closed indefinitely in both directions for repairs ^jp

— OPPCommunicationsNWR (@OPP_COMM_NWR) January 10, 2016

This is the brand new bridge, and it’s failure effectively cuts Canada in half. There is no travel around Lake Superior/Northern Ontario unless you travel into the United States. The failure of this bridge will cause immediate supply problems for communities along the north shore of Lake Superior who rely on supplies from Thunder Bay. White River and communities to the west are supplied from Thunder Bay.

4:45 p.m. UPDATE – Al Cresswell of CFNO – Marathon has relayed information from the Mayor of Nipigon, Richard Harvey that the community centre in Nipigon will be open for the next 24 hours to offer a warm refuge to motorists who are stranded on the Thunder Bay side of the bridge.

Pic via: cknw.news

Pic via: Ashley Littlefield (including profile pic above)

Pics via: Shelley Uvanile-Hesch

About the Bridge: The $106-million project, funded through the province's Northern Highways Program, began in 2013. The bridge will consist of three towers with cables supporting the bridge deck and a separate sidewalk for pedestrians. The opening of two lanes, supported by the first two towers, represents the completion of the first phase of construction. Work on the new eastbound lanes of the Nipigon River Bridge and demolition of the existing two-lane bridge continues. "I am very excited to be one step closer to the completion of the Nipigon River Bridge project, truly the crown jewel in our commitment to four-lane the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon," Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said in Friday's media release. "This project has been a personal goal of mine and I couldn't be more pleased that our government, through the Northern Highways Program, has been able to make the investments needed to see this major infrastructure project happen."

 Source: Via OPP / Twitter / Traffic Flows

on 10 January 2016