Circling nearly half the city of Thompson is the Burntwood river where both resident and those passing through are familiar with the Miles Hart Bridge which spans the Burntwood River three kilometres North of the Provincial Highway 6.
The essential need for this bridge gained Government awareness in 2022, as $36 Million was put towards the reconstruction. To date the Province has maintained the budget as construction workers near the half way point of the project.
Mayor Colleen Smook expressed the timely need on renovating the bridge. “It’s our only connection to the North” She stated, going on to list off the number of vital travel needs such as the Thompson Regional Airport or the Alamos Gold Mine in Lynn Lake.
It is also the only connection to surrounding communities such as Nelson House, Split Lake, Lynn Lake and Leaf Rapids.
On September 16, 2022 Miles Hart Bridge was shut down for multiple hours due to a major collision. Being that the bridge is the only connection to the North, transportation of METAVAX had to be air lifted through helicopter.
Aside from the propitious strain of the infrastructure, the age of the bridge called for a dire need for reconstruction as well. While a bridge is typically built with the lifespan of 40 - 50 years, this bridge was first built in 1971 making it 52 years old, nearing 53.
Though the rehabilitated bridge is expected to have a wider path for foot traffic and safety features that the previous one did not.
M.D. Steele Construction Integrity has been entrusted with this task, as they have run into constant difficulty working around the need for one way traffic flow. They have a short countdown time of only 4 minutes between direction changes to load or unload truckloads.
What would typically take them 15 minutes takes an hour to hour and a half working around the indicating lights and pressing schedule of the waiting drivers.
It can be a hassle working with the stop and go of timed traffic lights for all of us, but with the exceptional development of both efficiency and building integrity we can now begin to see the end unfold.
With challenges faced, M.D. Steele has managed to keep things moving on track with schedule, and we can trust their anticipated deadline of October 2024.