Canadian Bridge Project Receives Funding


Officials in Halifax, Nova Scotia, have announced $75 million in funding for cleaning and recoating work on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge to extend the structure’s lifespan by an expected 75 years.

According to a report from CBC News, the project will include abrasive blasting down to bare steel over the entire bridge and applying three new coats of paint to properly protect the steel.

Project Details

The layer of paint that has built up on the bridge has reportedly stopped protecting the steel, as water can now get underneath the structure and erode the beams, even if the damage isn't visible from the outside.

Chief Engineer Ahsan Chowdhury stated that removing the paint, repairing the steel and applying three coats of new paint will save a significant amount of money in the long run and help to avoid major issues in the future.

"We have to maintain it to be safe," he said. "We don't want to wait until it fails."

Chowdhury added that he and his colleagues visited similar bridges in the United States and Canada to determine how they handled recoating.

At the moment, a new fresh coat of light-green paint can now reportedly be spotted by looking up at the bridge from Barrington Street. The report states that this is an example of how the rest of the bridge should look after the recoating project is complete. 

Workers had also reportedly stripped and painted smaller sections on the Halifax and Dartmouth ends of the bridge over the past few years.

Canadian engineering firm Stantec is in charge of designing the $75 million project, which is expected to go out for tender this spring. Work is then expected to begin in the fall.

According to officials, about half of the cost for ths project is for steel replacement, with the other half going to painting.

Remaining work on the structure reportedly includes work on the two bridge towers and parts of the Halifax and Dartmouth approaches and spans. The new decking on the suspended span that was put in during the Big Lift has new steel and paint, meaning that it will not need any work.

Peter Flower, Project Manager at Stantec, said that his team has created a computer model of the Macdonald to look at where problems might be located, and which pieces may need to be replaced.

"There's a lot of work and prep work that goes into the project, so ... it might be 2025 before any paint is applied," he said.

The winning contractor will reportedly be required to follow strict environmental regulations around collecting the old paint as it's being blasted and disposing of it properly, Flower said.

Flower added that he hopes the project will attract one of the American companies which specialize in recoating bridges, as they could deliver the work "quite easily and cost effectively."

Previous Bridge Work

Halifax Harbour Bridges reportedly began a pilot project on the Halifax approach span in 2017 to figure out how to best tackle the job.

In December 2023, Stantec announced that it had been selected by Halifax Harbour Bridges to perform services related to the coating replacement program for the Macdonald Bridge.  

Stantec stated that its professional services contract with HHB was valued at $6.6 million. Once the project is tendered, it was anticipated that the construction value would be around $75 million over a multi-year period.

The bridge coating replacement program is expected to help modernize how protective paint is applied to create a more sustainable and long-term solution for protecting the bridge.

"Finding a more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective way to protect the Halifax Harbour Bridges is crucial to the longevity of our bridges,” said Chowdhury at the time. “Stantec brings the experience and industry connections needed to ensure that our long-term goal of protecting these bridges for years to come becomes reality.”

Services for the project reportedly included structural analysis, structural steel design, containment system design, coatings selection, specifications preparation, cost estimation, tendering assistance and engineering services during construction.

The company’s release adds that for over the past 60 years, HHB has worked with several paints and coatings to protect its bridges. Recent coating failures, rust, corrosion issues and steel section losses have, however, reportedly increased maintenance costs and produced negative results in protecting these bridges.

This is reportedly why the new program necessitates the removal of the existing coatings system to bare steel and the identification and repair of degraded steel work. The work will reportedly be followed by the application of a new corrosion-protection system.

“We’re thrilled to be carrying out this critical maintenance program for one of Halifax’s two iconic bridges,” said Flower.

“The experience we’ve had delivering successful projects as owner’s engineer and through design-build has built strong relationships throughout North America to help attract industry professionals to the North Atlantic. Our team depth in asset management, bridge inspection engineering, and construction management will be a great asset to support HHB, which will deepen our market presence in Nova Scotia.”

The project is expected to be completed by 2027.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Bridges; Bridges; Coating Application; Coating Materials; Coatings; Funding; Grants; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Inspection; Maintenance coating work; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Paint Removal; Program/Project Management; Protective Coatings; Recoating; Roads/Highways; Safety; Transportation; Upcoming projects

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