Independent firms hired to find cause of Nipigon Bridge failure

TORONTO -- Two independent testing facilities have been hired to find out what led to the failure of the Nipigon River Bridge in northern Ontario last Sunday.

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The National Research Council of Canada and Surface Science Western at Western University will start tests Monday to determine what caused the bolts holding the bridge cables to fail, allowing the decking to rise about 60 centimetres.

The bridge, part of the Trans-Canada highway, was closed for about 24 hours, severing the only east-west link for trucks that move about $100 million worth of goods daily.

Ministry of Transportation staff used more than 100 large cement blocks as counterweights to lower the bridge surface so they could reopen one lane of traffic, but oversized trucks must still detour through the United States.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said earlier this week that it was too early to start blaming anyone for the problems with Nipigon Bridge and urged people to "take a breath" while engineers determine exactly what went wrong.

The $106-million Nipigon River Bridge, the first every cable-stayed bridge in Ontario, opened the first two lanes about two months ago, but the four-lane project isn't scheduled to be completed until next year.

Wynne vowed the province will get to the bottom of what happened, fix it, and make sure it doesn't happen again.


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