Miles Canyon bridge unsafe until repaired: report

The Miles Canyon suspension bridge needs immediate repair before it can be re-opened to the public, according to a report by an engineering firm.

The Miles Canyon suspension bridge needs immediate repair before it can be re-opened to the public, according to a report by an engineering firm.

The Yukon government closed the popular tourist attraction 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 are in good condition but parts of the main wood structures have 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.

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.”

The Yukon government has hired Stantec Inc. to provide the design work for the repairs.

Once that is completed, estimates on the cost can be developed and a tender will be issued for the work.

Right now, there isn’t a timeline as to when the repairs will be completed, according to Jennifer Macgillivray with the Department of Community Services.

“Bridge repairs like this don’t take a long time,” she said.

“Once we tender the work it’ll be completed fairly quickly. We want to come up with a new way to hold the crossbeams in place.

“Right now they have a screw in them and that allows water to get in there.”

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.

Built in 1922 by the federal Department of Public Works and the City of Whitehorse, the bridge was named the Robert Lowe Bridge in honour of the first speaker of the first fully elected Yukon Territorial Council.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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