International Bridge plans summer projects

Fast facts:
- The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge has several repair and painting projects scheduled for this summer.
- A bridge abutment repair project will use an innovative epoxy injection technique for greater efficiency and fewer traffic impacts.
- The International Bridge Administration (IBA) will also replace sliding bearings, apply epoxy bridge deck coating and paint several bridge components.

To address ongoing maintenance needs at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, the International Bridge Administration (IBA) has scheduled several repair and painting projects this summer.

Annual bridge inspections in recent years have noted sinkholes and the movement and leakage of sand around and through both the Canadian and U.S. bridge abutments. At present, this condition is not severe.

“After 56 years of aging, loss of sand through the abutment embankment and retaining walls is not out of the ordinary,” said International Bridge Engineer Karl Hansen. “However, this condition will worsen as time progresses, so preventive repairs to the abutments have been scheduled.”

Beginning in June, the IBA will use an innovative product and repair method that was presented by the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) bridge field services staff. IBA will use a product called Uretek, an injected quick-setting epoxy, to stabilize sub-surface sand, gravel, and rocks by epoxying them together. The injecting unit will be stationed above the bridge abutment and small diameter bore holes will be made through the abutment, down into the sub-surface soils. Liquid epoxy will be injected into the abutment where it will spread throughout all underlying soils and cure in about an hour. The resulting repair is preventive in nature and greatly enhances soil strengths.

This treatment will effectively arrest the leakage of any soils through the abutments and is a superior solution to retaining wall repairs. It will also minimize traffic impacts.

“This method replaces the more traditional, structurally intrusive type of repair that would greatly disrupt traffic,” said IBA General Manager Peter Petainen. “Intrusive repairs would have required digging up areas of the roadway at the abutments. The Canadian abutment, in particular, would be very difficult otherwise, as repairs to the abutment’s retaining wall would have to be staged from Queen Street.”

Costs for the injection on the U.S. abutment are $30,250 U.S., and the work will be performed by Uretek USA, Inc. Costs for the injection on the Canadian abutment are $39,050 CDN, and the work will be performed by Uretek’s Canadian operation, Poly-Mor Canada Inc.

In addition to the abutment project and routine maintenance, the IBA is also scheduling other projects this summer:

  • IBA maintenance staff are scheduled to replace five sliding plates on the bridge. Staff installed 10 bearings in 2017 that are functioning well, and the remaining five are slated for installation on the Canadian arch as soon as weather permits this year.
  • Certain areas of the bridge deck have been identified as having a high concentration of hairline cracks. These areas will be treated with an epoxy “flood coat” and aggregate to ensure all cracks have been sealed and to make future routine crack sealing more efficient.
  • IBA staff will resume cleaning and coating the bridge’s ivory rail. About 1,553 feet (14 percent) of the rail has been painted so far. Maintenance staff will also continue spot painting on the tail spans of the U.S. arch and cleaning and coating the lower portion of the Canadian arch.

All of the projects will be completed with small intermittent lane closures on the bridge during day shifts only. No long-term or permanent closures are planned.

The operation and maintenance of the International Bridge is totally self-funded, primarily through bridge tolls. It is not subsidized by any state, provincial or federal government entity. For more information on the International Bridge, please visit www.saultbridge.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/saultbridge.

###

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge:
Bridging Our Past, Connecting Our Future