International Bridge board hears inspection updates

 Fast facts:

– The International Bridge recently underwent a fracture critical inspection, an annual inspection, and a federally required load rating review. Ongoing maintenance is keeping the bridge in good condition.
– The Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board of directors named member Micheline Dubé as its chair and member Thomas Buckingham Sr. vice chair for 2017.
– The SSMBA board also named Dubé as its vice chair for the remainder of 2016, replacing departing member Glenn Hewus.

November 18, 2016 — The Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board of directors, the bi-national body which supervises operations of the International Bridge, heard reports on bridge inspections and remaining plaza work at the board’s regular meeting Thursday.

The SSMBA board reviewed and officially accepted the results of the annual bridge inspection and fracture critical inspection. A team of bridge engineering experts from the firm of Hardesty and Hanover (H&H) of Okemos, Mich., conducted the two-week-long annual inspections of the bridge this fall and presented their findings at Thursday’s meeting.

“Outstanding ongoing maintenance is keeping the bridge in good to fair condition,” said H&H structural engineer Richard Wianecki. “The overall condition of the bridge is good and there are no serious issues.”

H&H noted only minor items stemming from the inspections and International Bridge Administration (IBA) staff has scheduled them for routine maintenance in 2017.

The fracture critical inspection was conducted on the Canadian half of the bridge. Fracture critical inspections are conducted on one-half of the bridge each year and provide a closer look at bridge components that are critical to the structural integrity of the bridge.

“We repair any structural deficiencies, no matter how minor, found during the inspection,” said Karl Hansen, the IBA bridge engineer. “The IBA has a long legacy of excellent bridge maintenance and a dedicated staff who protect the public investment in the bridge.”

A five-year load rating assessment mandated by the Federal Highway Administration was also completed this year. The load rating review was performed in order to calculate the capacity of the bridge with modern truck loads, which weren’t in existence when the bridge was built. The load rating verified that the original bridge design remains adequate for modern truck loads, and that there are no safety issues with the bridge. Bridge truck load limits remain at maximum 72 tons, with 500-foot minimum truck spacing.

In other business, the board heard an update on the 16-month-long, $8.9 million (USD) toll plaza project, which is proceeding smoothly. Work is slated to be finished by the end of the year. Part of the project replaced concrete showing premature signs of wear.

“All our toll lanes were open this past Monday,” said Peter Petainen, International Bridge Administration (IBA) general manager. “Work in the toll lanes was completed with minimal disruption to traffic. The project remains on time and on budget.”

The board named member Micheline Dubé as chair and member Thomas Buckingham Sr. as vice chair for 2017. The board also named Dubé vice chair for the remainder of 2016. She fills a board position left vacant by the retirement of Glenn Hewus. Dubé is president and chief executive officer of the Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd. (FBCL), the Canadian federal parent Crown corporation managing and overseeing four international bridge locations in Ontario. Hewus announced his retirement from FBCL and SSMBA, after serving for almost 10 years as the FBCL senior vice president, engineering and construction.

“I will certainly miss my many colleagues, peers, and friends,” Hewus said. “However, for personal and professional reasons, I have opted for an early retirement.”

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 a complete list of International Bridge tolls, visit the IBA website at

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