Of course we all love the idea of turning the old Port Mann Bride in Coquitlam, B.C., into a pedestrian-friendly green space, but that probably won’t happen. And by probably, I mean: There is no possible way officials will go to all that hassle, trouble and work to not only reconfigure a current contract and then come up with a feasible way to devise a new plan for keeping an old bridge that will no longer have access to it.
So, while we have to put our dreams of the coolest park in North America—not to mention potentially one of the most challenging to manage—to bed, let’s instead focus on destruction. Pure destruction.
As Kiewit/Flatiiron crews continue to erect the new $2.46 billion Port Mann Bridge, Transportation Investment Corporation officials want a plan by mid-2012 on how exactly they will rip out the old arched one, which is part of the overall fixed-price contract. And exactly how much of the $2 billion-plus goes toward a new bridge and how much gets tossed at removal certainly hasn’t been made public, but it could turn out that the cost of removing the old structure could cost considerably more than putting up a new 10-lane super bridge.
Early reports from the Journal of Commerce in Vancouver say the deconstruction plan likely involves taking out the asphalt and concrete from the bridge deck and then pulling apart the steel superstructure. Of course, with a 6,900-foot bridge that opened in 1964, there are no sure things, especially when it comes to the ease of untangling the nearly 50-year-old steel from itself.
From there, coaxing out the concrete piers from the Fraser River could prove the final step in the removal process. As everyone expects, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will get involved to make sure workers do all the in-water work to exact specifications.
But don’t get too worried yet, since the new 10-lane bridge won’t open its initial eight lanes until sometime around January 2013. At that time, the alignments and approaches can start to switch, which allows for the construction of the final two lanes and the removal of the old bridge’s approaches. The new bridge should still finish up in 2013 and the demolition of the old version is expected to wrap up in 2014. Exactly how that happens remains a mystery. Hopefully it doesn’t stay a mystery for too much longer.
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