The necessary rehabilitation of Saskatoon’s iconic University Bridge is planned for the 2015 construction season. The project is currently out for tender with a closing deadline of January, 28, 2015, at which time the City should be in a position to award the contract for the project.
“The rehabilitation of the near 100 year old bridge is great news for our growing city and will ensure the structure will continue to serve commuters for many years to come,” says Mike Gutek, Director of Major Projects. “Maintaining City infrastructure and bridges is important to Saskatoon.”
An independent engineering assessment of the bridge in 2013 identified the deck is structurally insufficient and the concrete is susceptible to rapid failure and loss of strength due to freeze-thaw action. While there is no risk of danger, the assessment concluded that immediate repairs are required.
“Deferring the project until the Traffic Bridge and North Commuter Parkway Projects are complete in late 2018 would result in further deterioration and could affect bridge use,” Gutek says. “Also, construction costs could increase by as much as an estimated 30 per cent due to further deterioration over the next three years.”
The City is tendering the project for construction during the 2015 season and the deck work that will impact traffic is expected to occur between May 1 and August 30, 2015. The City will be able to provide more detailed construction timeframes once the tender closes at the end of this month.
The project tender suggests a single lane of eastbound traffic exiting Downtown remain open Monday to Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and for a single walkway to remain open at all times during construction. The contractor will be permitted to perform work 24 hours a day to ensure the project is delivered in the most efficient and effective manner with the least disruption to drivers possible.
“Until the tender is closed, and detailed traffic analysis is carried out, the details on exactly how the construction project will change traffic flow are subject to adjustment,” Gutek says.
“To that end, we’re deeply aware this work will have a significant impact on traffic flow in our City, but the repairs are necessary for the safety and longevity of this important piece of infrastructure,” Gutek says. “During construction we will encourage drivers to use alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion and delays. The opening of the Circle Drive South Bridge has increased river crossing capacity, and the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge and Broadway Bridge are also options for travel to and from Downtown.”
The University Bridge was constructed in 1916, a new concrete deck was built in 1972 and, in 1985, the waterproof membrane and asphalt surface were replaced. During a rehabilitation project in 1998/1999 the sidewalks on both sides as well as the spandrel walls between the deck and the main arches were replaced.
A comprehensive and proactive plan is already in use to work with all stakeholders and those impacted by the project to minimize disruption. The project will be discussed at the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation on Monday, January 12, 2015.