Following the completion of the award-winning first phase reconstruction of Highway 8 in the Dundas area, the City of Hamilton is now embarking on a second phase.
An approximately 500-metre-long stretch of the highway from 100 metres west of Woodleys Lane to just east of Bond Street North will be totally rebuilt and that will create some disruption for area residents and motorists.
A full closure went into effect in April and the road will remain closed until project completion in December 2022.
Area residents and motorists wouldn’t be the only ones inconvenienced. The popular Bruce Trail hiking footpath which passes through the area and intersects with Highway 8 also had to be closed and rerouted along a number of side streets.
“The Bruce Trail was closed at Highway 8 because it opens up right at the construction site and it’s not safe to have residents pass through in the area while work is being completed,” says City of Hamilton project manager Jeff Rowen.
The project is large and comes with more than a few challenges, both in the extent of the work to be undertaken and the terrain. Highway 8 in that area climbs up Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment and the section being reconstructed is defined by sharp turns and steep slopes, he says.
Designed by Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, a Division of Wood Canada Limited, with construction by Rankin Construction, the project encompasses the actual reconstruction, the installation of bike lanes, shoulders, retaining walls, new sewer and water lines, sidewalk replacement, and street lighting pole relocation.
However, the largest and most complex component of the project is occurring at Spencer Creek. Spanning the watercourse is a 91-year-old bridge which had been previously rehabilitated and has now reached the end of its service life, says Rowen.
It will be replaced by a new longer bridge consisting of a reinforced concrete deck and parapet walls on prestressed precast concrete girders and placed on a reinforced concrete substructure foundation. The bridge will be 23 metres long and will have with a maximum width of 16.3 metres which allows for two traffic lanes and a shoulder and sidewalk on each side.
In order to minimize the impact on the creek only a portion of the existing foundation will be removed. A new foundation will be installed, he says.
“The entire removal (of the old bridge) and the replacement will take about 16 months.”
Erecting the new bridge on a steep longitudinal grade and on a horizontal curve will be complex and there have also been some pre-construction site clearing challenges. Bell Canada had to relocate and bury an aerial cable that would have interfered with the shoring and more than 140 trees had to be cut. New ones will be planted during the project restoration, he says.
The condition of the bridge had been a prime factor in the project, which had been long-time city objective and the subject of several studies. But the project took on an added dimension following slope failures in 2018 and 2019 in the same location. A substantial slope stability analysis and structural design of retaining walls to address those failures was conducted by Wood.
The retaining walls will be built at key points along the south side and in behind an existing wall on the north side, says Rowen.
Asked what measures are being implemented to minimize the impact of the project on the community, he explains that access to homes and businesses both east and west of the Spencer Creek Bridge will be maintained from portions of the highway not under construction and side streets.
Access to the Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club will also be maintained, as the entranceway to the club is just outside of the construction zone area.
Rankin Construction will also be working closely with a number of stakeholders including utilities and CN, which operates a nearby rail line, to ensure there is no disruptions to service, he says.
This is the second Highway 8 reconstruction undertaken by the City of Hamilton. A $3.7 million reconstruction from the CN rail bridge to Park Avenue, to the east of this site, was the recipient of the Ontario Good Roads Association’s 2020 Municipal Paver of the Year Award. The contractor was Steed and Evans.
At this point, no more projects on Highway 8 are in the works. But a number of road projects in other parts of Dundas are planned, says design manager Susan Jacob.