Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority Eyes Changes to Capital Projects

Fast facts:

– Some capital projects at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge are being rescheduled in an effort to take advantage of new technology and save money.
– The Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board of directors received updates on planned bridge maintenance projects at its meeting Thursday.
– The SSMBA board welcomed new Canadian board members Micheline Dubé and Anthony Pickett.

August 19, 2016 — Capital projects at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge are being rescheduled in an effort take advantage of new technology and to save money.

The Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board, the bi-national body supervising operations of the International Bridge, had its quarterly meeting Thursday. The board received updates on bridge maintenance projects, which had been scheduled to begin this year.

Painting of the bridge’s Canadian arch was slated for 2016. IBA officials are investigating promising new alternative coatings for use in future major painting projects and the bridge’s own maintenance painting efforts. A test of a new coating system will be completed this year on several spans on the south side of the bridge.

“The Canadian arch painting project will be re‐tendered for 2017 due to higher-than-expected bids, allowing us time to evaluate cost-effective paint system alternatives,” said Peter Petainen, general manager at the International Bridge Administration (IBA).”We are delaying several capital projects and looking for more cost-effective ways to complete these projects with our own staff.”

A project to replace sliding plate bearings and rocker arms was also slated for this fall. The bearings are on order, but due to the lengthy lead time to manufacture the parts, the project has been rescheduled to 2017. The scope of the contracted work is subject to ongoing negotiations with a selected contractor.

“We are also reviewing the bridge’s overall business plan with regard to timing of future capital projects as we start on more intensive preventive maintenance,” Petainen said. “We plan to take advantage of opportunities to save money and integrate new technologies.”

Bridge staff in July also completed a flood coat sealing of the Canadian arch concrete deck, an example of the IBA’s shift to an asset-management and preventive maintenance approach. The flood coat is an epoxy sealant that fills all cracks in the deck, extending the surface life as well as improving road traction. Other deck locations on the bridge are scheduled to receive the flood coat.

In other business, the board reviewed preliminary results of the annual bridge inspection and the fracture critical inspection. A team of bridge engineering experts recently inspected the bridge and only minor items were noted. IBA staff reported that work was already underway to address them.

The board formally accepted the appointment of two new members, Micheline Dubé and Anthony Pickett. They fill a board position left vacant by the death of long-time SSMBA member Jim McIntyre, and a position occupied until recently by outgoing board chairwoman Helen Gillespie. Both are officers of and were appointed by the Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd. (FBCL), the Canadian federal parent Crown corporation managing and overseeing four international bridge locations in Ontario. Dubé is president and chief executive officer of FBCL, and Pickett is FBCL’s chief corporate services officer.

In addition to her new position on the SSMBA board, Dubé is a member of the FBCL Board of Directors and also the president of the Seaway International Bridge Corp.; she is a board member of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. She has served as the FBCL owner representative to SSMBA since 2008, representing owner interests at joint Canada‐U.S. bridge management meetings.

“Whenever you’re dealing with two countries, and an international structure, you need to have an agreement. But oftentimes, with a handshake, we can come to an agreement.” Dubé said. “We work as if we’re one unit, even though we’re two countries, one unit.”

A resident of Ottawa, Dubé has family in the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, area.

Anthony (Tony) Pickett joined the FBCL in 2016. He is responsible for human resources, communications, information management and technology, audit and administrative services.

Prior to joining FBCL, Pickett served for 29 years with distinction in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Pickett holds a Bachelor of Arts from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He lives in Orleans, Ontario, with his wife, Holly. They have two adult children, Jennifer and Jessica.

The board also recognized outgoing chairwoman Gillespie for her many years of service. She served as a member of the St. Mary’s River Bridge Co. (SMRBC), the public entity created in 1955 by the Canadian Parliament to oversee the construction, operation, and maintenance of the bridge on behalf of Canada. She served on the predecessor Joint International Bridge Authority from 2004 to 2006, the St. Mary’s River Bridge Board, and, since 2010, the SSMBA board. She was the chair of SSMBA for two separate one-year terms, and served two terms as the vice-chair. She was lauded for her work on the board’s audit committee, demonstrating excellent leadership and wisdom, and a keen business sense. During her term, the board authorized an $8.9 million project to replace the 52-year-old toll plaza and administration building, addressing operational and safety issues and improving customer service.

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