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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alberta's largest bridge deck opens in Fort McMurray

Motorists travelling in and through Fort McMurray will be driving over Alberta’s largest bridge deck that covers an area equal to five football fields.

The brand new $127-million Athabasca River Bridge carries Highway 63 over the river. It opened to four lanes of traffic on Oct. 26.
“This milestone puts us well on our way to our ultimate goal of having 10 lanes of traffic flowing over the Athabasca River,” said Ray Danyluk, Minister of Transportation. “This new bridge is a key part of an overall plan to move people and goods safely and efficiently in Fort McMurray.”


The new bridge is 33 metres wide, 472 metres long, and has a deck area of 15,576 square metres. The new span is capable of carrying a 1 million-kilogram (2.25 million pounds) oversize vehicle, which is 12.5 times the usual design. The bridge also includes a 4.2-metre wide sidewalk, major utility lines, and an automated de-icing fluid spray system.

“This bridge is a visible symbol of our government's commitment to meeting the unique requirements of this growing region,” said Jeff Johnson, Minister of Infrastructure and Minister responsible for the Oil Sands Secretariat.

The five-lane bridge will ultimately provide three lanes for northbound Highway 63 traffic and two lanes for local northbound traffic from Franklin Avenue. A median will separate higher-speed highway traffic from lower-speed local traffic, which enhances safety by preventing a mix of variable speed traffic.

“The Athabasca River Bridge is part of a broader transportation solution that will help ease congestion over time,” said Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “We want people to be able to travel through this region as reliably and efficiently as possible.”

Initially, the bridge will carry both northbound and southbound Highway 63 traffic (two lanes each direction) while the adjacent Grant MacEwan and Steinhauer Bridges are being rebuilt (see backgrounder).

Flatiron Constructors started building the new bridge in 2008.

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