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Bridge gets new parts
Sliding plate bearings used on the International Bridge since its opening in 1962 are being replaced.

Fifteen of the bearings, allowing the crossing between the Twin Saults to move back and forth, are being replaced on the American arch this year. The work is two-thirds done. The bearings are being replaced by three steeplejacks who work for Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority.

A 2015 inspection report by Hardisty and Hanover, an engineering firm in Okemos, Mich., recommended their replacement, said SSMBA general manager Peter Petainen.

“It's not easy work. I have to give my maintenance staff a lot of credit,” said Petainen of replacing the sliding plate bearings. “It's very tedious, time consuming work and they're doing it while there's live traffic right above them.”

The new bearings are expected to last 30 to 40 years.

Service life of the original sliding plate bearings “was what was intended,” said Petainen.

“This is the expected life of each of these bearings,” he told The Sault Star.

Sliding plate bearings on the Canadian arch may not be replaced until 2018 after a painting project in the area ends. That work, being done by Glavin Coating and Refinishing of Zurich, Ont., is 50 per cent done with completion anticipated by late October. Cost is $3.4 million.

Two rocker link arms are also being replaced on the American arch. The link arms let the bridge expand and contract depending on the temperature. Work was delayed about a month due to a delay in needed scaffolding from a subcontractor, said Petainen.

The link arms are being replaced by C.A. Hull of Walled Lake, Mich. That project, started in early August, ends in November.

Cost of the bearings and arms replacement is $506,000.

Bridge staff started pressure washing and painting the curb rail the length of the bridge in July. Anticipated cost is $300,000 to $350,000 over two years.