Nipigon River Bridge critical to Canada's transportation network


The prosperity of the country’s commercial transportation network hinges on the Nipigon River Tie, a vulnerability exposed when the northern Ontario crossing broke Sunday and ceased the trucking route between Eastern and Western Canada.

Roughly 1,300 connections cross over that stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway each day, carrying $100 million advantage of food, mail, machinery and other goods, according to 2012 assumes provided by the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

“Every truck that drives across Canada, force go across that bridge,” Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey turned Monday. “The country has been cut in half … and from that perspective, it’s an offspring of national importance.”

Police initially shut the bridge to traffic Sunday despite that smooth after the crossing’s west side began to pull away from its abutment, deifying the deck by about 60 centimetres.

Officials were unable to say how big it might take to re ir the bridge, but one lane was opened on Monday round 11 a.m. and ssenger vehicles and regular-sized transport trucks were being escorted across. Oversized stuffs are not being allowed to cross the bridge.

There are rural logging turnpikes in the area, about 100 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., but those don’t compel ought to the infrastructure to support most commercial or ssenger vehicles. There’s no alternative to the connection, other than taking a detour through the United States.

On security

That detour has proven increasingly difficult as security normals increased after the Sept. 11 attacks, resulting in the majority of native shipments driving through Canada, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Junk Alliance said Monday.

Before that time, trucks could expeditions through the U.S. and be considered an “in-transit shipment” — essentially cargo that was decent moving through the country — and not be scrutinized in the way goods staying in the country wish be, David Bradley said.

“But since 9/11, the U.S. security officials be undergoing … treated those in-transit movements as international shipments — and with that lay hold of a much greater requirement for data and other kinds of rules,” Bradley conjectured. “So that basically choked off that outlet.”

He said the two countries originated working on a pilot project to allow about nine trucking unalterable consolidates to resume in-transit shipping, but that has yet to come to fruition.

The Canada Frame Services Agency said in an email that it is working with the connection industry “to develop temporary measures to address the issue.” The agency didn’t proffer any specifics.

Map of Nipigon River Bridge

The Nipigon River Bridge, about 100 kilometres northeast of Bark Bay, is the only route through northern Ontario to the eastern and western rts of the state (Google Maps)

Another roadblock to sending commercial traffic fully the U.S. would be the different weight restrictions the countries have on their highways.

Myriad Canadian highways support a combined vehicle and cargo weight of up to 46 tonnes, six tonnes deeper than what’s allowed in the U.S. for three-axle trailers, said Barry Prentice, a traffic professor at the University of Manitoba.

That’s largely because Canadian winters longing erode the highways before heavy traffic will, Prentice affirmed, so domestic trucks are allowed to transport more cargo, which makes it stingier to ship goods.

“We take our transportation system and infrastructure for granted until something functions wrong, so this is kind of a wake-up call,” he said Monday. “Our transportation infrastructure is so key to our conservatism, whether it’s road or rail or air.”

The stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway along the Nipigon River and from Kenora, Ont., to Winnipeg are the just two sections that Prentice knows of that could bottleneck because there are no alternate routes.

It’s something that accomplishes their maintenance especially critical to the economy, he said.

But the shifting primitiveness of the transportation industry could ease some the pressure on those essential points, Prentice said, as there has been an uptick in train goods, which then gets picked up by trucks in either Winnipeg or Toronto.

Danger plans

The $106-million ex nsion of the Nipigon Bridge, which has been unfolding, was slated to finish in 2017. It was also touted as making the country’s shipping carry less vulnerable, the community’s mayor said, as it would boost the two-lane rub out to four lanes.

Harvey said the town has three different exigency management plans, depending on the season, to redirect ssenger and commercial movement in cases when the bridge is blocked or broken.

One of those possibilities includes bracing some of the logging roads so they could support traffic, but Harvey guessed the exact details are being kept secret.

“The last thing we fall short of right now is people to start trying to go around that bridge.”

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