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Edmonton bridge opening pushed back by a full year

Russell Hixson
Edmonton bridge opening pushed back by a full year

The City of Edmonton announced last week that the opening date for the new Walterdale Bridge has been pushed back one year, from fall 2015 to fall 2016.

The delays are the result of critical steel parts fabricated in Korea being delivered months late.

"We are disappointed that the new Walterdale Bridge will not open to public service in fall 2015 as we had anticipated," said Barry Belcourt, City of Edmonton branch manager for roads design and construction. "We know many Edmontonians will also be disappointed and we regret the delay."

The existing Walterdale Bridge remains in service and will continue carrying traffic downtown until the new bridge opens.

Traffic and river valley trail detours remain in place.

The project’s general contractor Acciona/Pacer Joint Venture (APJV) said that without the steel on site it was unable to meet several project milestones.

As part of its contract with the city, APJV assumes the full project delivery risk, including penalties for schedule delays. Acciona Infrastructure Canada managing director, Raquel Garcia, said that APJV remains committed to working with the City of Edmonton to complete the Walterdale Bridge Replacement Project.

"The APJV is disappointed that construction is delayed due to issues with the structural steel manufacturer. The APJV has implemented, and will continue to implement, various mitigation strategies to resolve these challenges," said Garcia.

The city indicated that the delays will cost the contractor.

"The construction schedule and steel delivery has always been a risk that the contractor has borne, and in this case it materialized," said Belcourt. "The city is protecting its interests by holding the contractor accountable and will ultimately levy penalties as a result."

Officials for the contractor were contacted by the Journal of Commerce, but they would not comment on how much the penalties will be. According to the city, project costs remain within the established $155 million budget, with no additional costs anticipated for the city or taxpayers resulting from the delay.

Despite the delay, activity has not slowed down on the Walterdale construction site.

Crews are continuing to backfill the cofferdams and complete concrete bridge support legs. Next steps include assembling the arch steel in preparation to launch the central arch pieces across river later this year.

Construction of the new Walterdale Bridge began in January 2013. Certain project milestones, such as the reconfigurations of Queen Elizabeth Park Road and Walterdale Hill, are complete. The updated schedule includes opening the new bridge to traffic in fall 2016 and removal of the existing bridge in spring 2017.

The arches for the new $155 million bridge were originally planned to be put in place late last summer.

The new bridge will replace the old bridge, spanning the North Saskatchewan River to connect the intersection of Queen Elizabeth Park Road and Walterdale Hill on the river’s south side to the River Valley Road/Rossdale Road/105 Street intersection on the north side.

The steel pieces were fabricated and constructed by South Korea’s Daewoo International Corp., a company selected by Acciona-Pacer Joint Venture.

According to the city, Korean crews had to put all the arch pieces together to ensure they fit well and to survey it during the trial assembly. Officials said the delays were not due to quality issues.

The city as well as the contractor, followed quality control programs and have employees in Korea overseeing the work. The cause of the long fabrication time is due to the complexity of the bridge’s unique design, officials said.

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