Repairs to the Miles Canyon suspension bridge are ahead of schedule and the popular tourist attraction should be re-opened by the beginning of May, rather than this summer.
Temporary repairs are scheduled to begin next week, according to Jennifer Macgillivray with the Department of Community Services.
That will include replacing some of the decaying crossbeams that run across the bottom of the bridge.
More permanent work will take place in the fall, she added, to replace the rest of the aging timbers on the bridge.
“This will allow the bridge to spend more time open and less time under repair,” she said.
Macgillivray said there’s no safety risk to opening the bridge after its temporary repairs are completed next month.
Andco Enterprises Ltd. won the contract for the temporary repairs for about $46,000.
The Yukon government closed the bridge back in October following a safety inspection on Oct. 20.
An engineer with Wood Research and Development Inc., Dan Tingley, carried out a more detailed inspection from Oct. 28-31.
According to Tingley’s final report, the bridge’s towers and suspension cables were in good condition but parts of the main wood structures had deteriorated.
Of the 21 crossbeams on the bridge, 11 have significant decay.
The use of heavy solids in the paint that was applied to the beams has accelerated the decay because it traps moisture inside the wood, preventing evaporation, explained Paul Murchison with the Department of Highways and Public Works at a briefing in December.
The bridge won’t be painted this time, Macgillivray said, and will have the same appearance as when it was originally built.
The stringers, which run underneath the bridge and connect to the deck, are also in various stages of decay.
Pictures in the report showed beams that had partially rotted. Some were cracked and had large pieces that had broken off.
“It is recommended that the bridge remain closed until the above repairs are completed,” Tingley wrote in his report’s conclusion.
“Immediate works to prevent snow build up induced failure or failure under a trespass load might be considered.”
After repairs are completed in the fall, the bridge should have a lifespan of about 50 years, Macgillivray said.
Built in 1922 as a tourist attraction, the 130-foot long bridge was rebuilt in the early 1970s.
Following an inspection in 2008, the towers were rebuilt and new concrete footings were poured, according to the Yukon government.
Work on the bridge was last done in 2010-11, when the timber towers were refurbished and replaced. New concrete footings were also installed under the towers.