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Deh Cho Bridge completion date delayed
Potential delays won't hurt Fort Providence: local leaders

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011

DEH GAH GOT'IE KOE/FORT PROVIDENCE - Fort Providence leaders are taking the news of the potential delay of the Deh Cho Bridge's completion in stride.

NNSL photo/graphic

A delay in the delivery of steel that resulted in only the truss members on the north side of the Deh Cho Bridge being installed over the winter is being blamed for a potential delay in the structure's completion. - NNSL file photo

"It is what it is," said Raymond Bonnetrouge, the mayor of Fort Providence.

"As a community we can't really do anything about it."

On May 13, Deh Cho MLA Michael McLeod, minister of Transportation, told the legislative assembly the bridge's completion might be behind schedule due to delayed steel deliveries last fall. McLeod said information provided by Ruskin Construction, the bridge's general contractor, indicates the superstructure trusses, towers and cabling weren't completed during the past winter because of delays in the delivery of material.

"As a result, certain weather-sensitive construction activities such as paving, constructing concrete curbs and grouting of deck panels are unlikely to begin before winter," he said.

McLeod said the effects of a delay on the total capital cost of the project couldn't be determined. He also didn't comment on when the bridge, which was scheduled for completion this November, would now be finished.

Bonnetrouge said delays won't have a real effect on Fort Providence. The community has been using both a ferry and an ice crossing since the highway system was built and one more year won't make a difference, he said.

The only inconvenience is during spring break-up and residents and local businesses are used to ordering extra fuel and supplies in advance, Bonnetrouge said. "It will be business as usual."

He did note that if the bridge's completion is delayed, Fort Providence residents will have the opportunity to be employed on the project longer and the bridge crew will have more time to make purchases in the community.

"In that sense there's a bit of a trade off," he said.

Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge of Deh Gah Got'ie First Nation wasn't surprised by the announcement of the possible delay. There had been indications that the steel deliveries weren't going well and that the work that was scheduled to be completed by March hadn't been finished, he said.

"It's okay with us," Joachim said about the delay.

A delay in construction would give the community more time before it's accessible at all times because of the bridge. There would be one more year of isolation, he said.

At the bridge site, the entire superstructure including the trusses, A-pylons and cables on both the north and south sides of the bridge were expected to be in place before break-up, said Earl Blacklock, manager of public affairs and communication with the Department of Transportation.

Only the trusses on the north side were ready to connect with the centre span. Once the ice leaves the Mackenzie River the temporary bridge will be reinstalled and work will begin on the south side, he said.

The truss sections for both sides were supposed to have arrived through a series of deliveries before break-up. The first delivery in the fall was several weeks late and subsequent deliveries never caught up, said Blacklock.

Some of the trusses still haven't arrived but there are enough to begin on the south side, he said.

with files from Katherine Hudson

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