07/20/2015 05:41 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT

Lack Of Bracing Caused 102nd Avenue Bridge Girders To Buckle

EDMONTON - A city official says steel girders on a key bridge under construction in Edmonton buckled last spring because there wasn't enough support when they were lowered.

Road manager Barry Belcourt says both permanent and temporary braces were used and there "probably" should have been more permanent bracing.

Crews were able to straighten the three large girders that buckled on the 102nd Avenue Bridge in March and engineers who analyzed the beams said they were safe to be reinstalled.

The $32-million project to replace an existing bridge on a busy commuter corridor was to have been completed by this fall.

Four other beams did not bend, but Belcourt says a lot of work must still be done and the bridge won't reopen until next summer at the earliest.

Belcourt says the city has developed a plan with the contractor to get the bridge finished in decent time because delay adds costs.

“After Sept. 30, for every day (that's) approximately $11,500 per day," Belcourt said at an update Monday. "There’s transit detour costs that are built in ... obviously the longer it takes a contractor to work, it’s going to cost us more engineering time. There’s city staff time and there’s site occupancy.”

No one was injured when the girders buckled during installation in the middle of March. Crews had started bolting them in place after they had been put in position with cranes, but work was temporarily suspended due to extreme winds.

The beams buckled without warning the next day.

The safety hazard posed by the twisted metal temporarily closed Groat Road, a main thoroughfare beneath the bridge. Part of the avenue along which the bridge runs has been shut down since last July, which has caused major traffic tieups.

Edmonton's transportation woes don't end with one bridge.

The opening of a new span over the North Saskatchewan River that cuts through the city has been delayed one year. City officials said in April that about half the steel needed for the Walterdale Bridge had not arrived from the South Korean manufacturer.

And an extension of the city's light-rail transit was supposed to be running 15 months ago, but has been postponed a number of times because of problems with the signalling system. At this point, the city has no estimated opening date.

(CHED, The Canadian Press)

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