Canadian Consulting Engineer

Hand-me-down bridge rescues Vancouver commuters

A traffic crisis in Vancouver came to an unexpectedly quick and happy end when engineers discovered a way to replac...

January 26, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A traffic crisis in Vancouver came to an unexpectedly quick and happy end when engineers discovered a way to replace a destroyed section of the Patullo Bridge.

The wooden trestle bridge dates from 1937 and carries an estimated 80,000 vehicles a day between Surrey and New Westminster across the Fraser River. Last week it had to be closed after a section of it caught fire (reportedly homeless people living beneath it accidentally started the blaze).

TransLink had to spring into action to boost bus and transit service to help out commuters, and it was expected the bridge could be closed for up to six weeks.

However, as it happened, consulting engineers Buckland & Taylor had already been working on redesigning that section of the bridge. They managed to locate a spare bridge structure sitting in a yard in Langley that could fill the gap. The bridge was left over from the construction of the Canada Line rapid transit project.

The steel and concrete structure measured 70 feet and had to be modified and cut to 60 feet. Then, says a spokesperson from TransLink, “It fitted beautifully.” Surespan, which was in charge of the construction, did pile driving and was able to drop the structure into place in time for Monday morning rush hour traffic on January 26. The ‘temporary’ bridge is expected to be a fixture for 10 years more.

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