Island Park Bridges Rapid Replacement

For the first time, MTO is using rapid replacement technology to lift, remove and replace existing bridges. In August, MTO will be replacing the two bridges at Island Park on Highway 417. The full replacement will take approximately 15 hours.

Rapid replacement technology is a construction staging technique where a new structure is constructed in an enclosed area nearby. The existing structure will be removed, and the new structure placed using heavy lift technology. The rapid replacement technology to be utilized for moving the approximately 500-tonne bridges is Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT). This technology has been used successfully in many bridge replacement projects in Europe and the United States in recent years.

Highway 417 (Ottawa Queensway) is the main east-west provincial corridor that accommodates a large volume of commuter traffic as well as serving substantial tourist and commercial inter-city and intra-city traffic from Ottawa. There are ten concrete deck/steel girder bridges along Highway 417 consisting of three or four traffic lanes (one bridge in both the eastbound and westbound directions). All ten of the bridges were constructed in 1959 and rehabilitated in 1983. During the planning phase, MTO revised the conventional construction approach to include utilizing the rapid replacement technology for all the deck/steel girder bridges, thus reducing traffic interruption.

SPMTs are very maneuverable equipment made up of modules with 4 to 6 axles and rubber tires that are able to turn 360 degrees. Depending on the load, as many modules can be added as needed and with so many wheels the actual load on the road surface is similar to that of a truck traveling on the highway. The SPMTs will be used to remove both the east- and westbound bridges and likewise the new bridges will be installed.

One project step included establishing a temporary enclosed construction staging area. This construction staging area accommodates the construction of the new Island Park bridge decks, and provides space for the placement of the existing bridges being removed. When the new bridges have been placed, the staging area will be used for the demolition of the existing bridges. The staging area site, used for only one construction season, will then be restored to preconstruction condition.

By adopting this innovative method of bridge replacement, the province is expecting to save about $2.4 million for the Island Park Bridges project by using rapid replacement and avoiding the typical lane closures associated with the conventional approach over a period of two construction seasons. Another advantage of this technology is the reduction of green house gases often caused by traffic congestion and car idling in a construction zone.

This project included extensive public consultation, traffic management and a risk assessment component as well as environmental consideration. The Ministry hopes the success of this project will result in rapid replacement technology being used in future bridge replacement projects in Ontario and across Canada.