Making History and Transforming a Community: The Peace River Bridge Project
“I think in the end, this will be a town that will be very grateful. This will help prevent accidents and traffic congestion on the bridge.”
Peace River Bridge Project Office Manager Rachel Gove sees big things for the small town of Peace River.
The project takes the prize for the furthest north Flatiron has ever taken on. It also takes the prize for being the only apparent time a 125 linear meter bridge span has been launched into place. The joint venture alongside Aecon will bring the town of Peace River (an idyllic area in northwestern Alberta situated along the river’s banks) safer transportation and new economic opportunity.
Only having one bridge for key thoroughfare Highway 2 to cross the river presented logistical and safety issues for the community. The existing structure sees more than 17,000 vehicles a day. However, if there’s an accident or repairs need to be done (which happen frequently on the aging bridge), a frustrating 45 mile detour is required. Adding to that, the hospital is on one side of the river, with police, schools, and other vital services on the other. Having a twin bridge to begin handling traffic in the other direction on its own will be a huge help for residents and travelers.
A small town will reap economic benefits as well
As Project Manager Rick Macomber explains, having two structures (plus a new pedestrian bridge being built as well) will provide economic benefits for the region as well. “The new Peace River Bridge will allow for large prefabricated modules used in the oil fields to pass across Peace River,” he explains.
At the very beginning of May the team began the first of eleven deck pours. Those pours will continue through the middle of June.
From there, the joint venture can start the erection of the pedestrian steel bridge from the top of the deck.
As for the pandemic, very few cases have been detected in this isolated region of Canada, and work has been allowed to proceed as long as strict protocols are followed.
While that has certainly been a stroke of luck, there still have been challenges building the bridge. Methane gas was discovered during the construction of the third pier. And of top of that, the cofferdam shifted during construction. That was serious enough that divers had to be sent in underneath the frozen river ice to remove most of the berm.
Strong owner relationship could lead to future wins for Flatiron
The Flatiron team also enjoys a strong collaborative relationship with Owner Alberta Transportation. “The relationship we have developed with AT and their Engineering team is solid,” beams Macomber. “Our ability to negotiate and settle issues as they arise is a testament to the group’s willingness to work together. I feel very positive in our ability grow our relationship into future work in the region.”
As Gove says, Peace River is a unified team that has learned quite a bit from each other: “From the beginning we have worked very well together, with open communication and trust. We have great support from our managers. It has been one of my most rewarding projects I have worked on.”
Peace River is scheduled to finish up late this year.