Canada cut in half as new bridge ruptures on only highway connecting east to west

Updated Jan 16, 2016
Photo Credit: The Chronicle JournalPhoto Credit: The Chronicle Journal

Canadian drivers were facing a detour that sent them out of the country and into the U.S. after the newly completed Nipigon River Bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway ruptured this past weekend.

According to CBC News, a piece of the decking on the new bridge was somehow lifted nearly two feet above the other section of the road. The incident shut down traffic Sunday afternoon, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation didn’t say how long it would take to get the bridge repaired. One lane has opened to allow drivers to pass, albeit slowly. But the bridge’s split sent Canada into emergency mode.

Seeing as the Trans-Canada Highway is the only road that connects Eastern and Western Canada, the incident has made traveling hectic, to say the least. Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey and the town opened up the township’s community centers for travelers to stay while the situation gets remedied.

“If this is something that is going to take a little longer, we do have other options that we’ll be looking at to get traffic moving as quickly as possible,” Harvey said said.

The Nipigon River Bridge is in a twinning project to replace the old bridge with two two-lane bridges. One of the new bridges is the one that split, causing trucks to smash their front ends as they hit the divide.

“As we turned [onto the highway], we saw the whole bridge — a kind of big gust of wind came underneath it and blew it up and then it came back down,” witness Ashley Littlefield said. â€śWe watched two pickup trucks come flying over. … They didn’t see us, didn’t hear my horn honking, and they flew over and smashed their front ends down on the cement.”

Crews brought in large concrete barriers to weigh down the part of the bridge that had risen in order to get one lane open for drivers, according to The Chronicle Journal.

“Ministry staff worked through the night to rectify the situation, using counterweights to level the bridge surface. An engineering inspection was also completed to ensure the safety of the bridge and the traveling public,” Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said. â€śKeeping Ontario moving is a shared priority of all involved and I commend the hardworking crews who labored throughout the night to return this important piece of highway infrastructure to the safe, driving condition all Canadians expect.”