Manitoba plans to replace 56-year-old Highway 59 bridge over Red River Floodway

By | September 15, 2020

The province is looking for a contractor to replace the 56-year-old Highway 59 bridge that runs over the Red River Floodway.

The deteriorating, damaged bridge has outlived its lifespan and the tendering process is now underway, Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said.

“At 56 years old, when you’re a bridge, it’s time for you to be replaced,” Schuler said Tuesday from beside the floodway bridge, which was built in 1964. “Awful lot of traffic goes over this.”

More than 17,000 vehicles pass over the bridge every day, the province said, and the bridge serves as an important link over the floodway to a variety of areas, including Birds Hill Provincial Park, Grand Beach, the Whiteshell and a number of First Nations communities.

Replacing the bridge was originally part of the plan for $700-million in floodway upgrades done during the 2000s, but in the end it wasn’t done, Schuler said.

The province estimates 17,000 vehicles pass over this bridge daily. (Travis Golby/CBC)

A July 2018 collision involving a dump truck that hit the bridge while trying to pass underneath it then prompted an inspection that found the bridge girder and a portion of the deck were damaged, Schuler said.

“[It] compromised this bridge to the point where there was no value in just trying to rehab it. It was just done,” Schuler said.

A May 2020 public information session provided details of the bridge reconstruction plans, slated to begin this fall.

New northbound and southbound sections will replace the existing bridge.

Steel bars are exposed at the base of a deteriorating pillar that holds up the Highway 59 bridge over the floodway. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The new bridge’s height clearance will be 1½ metres more than the old bridge to meet current standards. That improvement will also keep the bridge above floodwaters if the floodway is activated and levels beneath it rise.

The hope is to begin construction soon. Work will be co-ordinated with normal operations of the floodway, and construction is expected to wrap up by the end of 2023.

The province previously announced $150 million in upgrades to Manitoba highways in July, including to over 60 kilometres of Highway 59. 

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