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Capilano River Bridge, the worst stretch of the Upper Levels Highway, is getting an upgrade

Highway 1 may be closed nightly in one direction for the project
Capilano River bridge crash 2 web
Crews try to clear a collision from the Capilano River Bridge in West Vancouver, May 8, 2019.

One of the bumpiest, most crash-prone stretches of Highway 1 on the North Shore is getting a badly needed makeover.

For the next three weeks, the Capilano River Bridge will be subject to nightly closures while crews resurface the deck.

Last summer, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure completed about 1,000 square metres of resurfacing for the 3,000-square meter bridge.

“Since we've done some of the work, we have seen some improvement,” said Bowinn Ma, North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP MLA. “We're going to go back and do the rest of the work.”

It means the highway lanes where the work is being done will be fully closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Sundays to Thursdays, starting on July 25. Drivers will be expected to detour about 3.5 kilometres out of the way via Taylor Way or Capilano Road during those hours.

The ministry’s contractor has been given a three-week window to do the work.

But, it should result in fewer crashes, Ma said.

“Drivers will remember the surface along that bridge was pretty terrible,” she said. “Anecdotally, we are seeing reduced crashes in the areas where resurfacing has already happened.”

The bridge is so rough, it inspired someone to create a parody account on Twitter that routinely sulks about a lack of maintenance.

Resurfacing a bridge deck is quite a bit more complex than a standard road, requiring contractors to grind away everything down to the subsurface of the structure. They’ll then re-top it with a polymer concrete mixture that cures quicker, provides better waterproofing and handles fluctuations in temperature better than standard concrete.