The commute-spoiling pothole on Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing should be fixed by the end of this week, according to the highway contractor working on the project.
The hole in the southbound centre lane opened up on Dec. 28, causing the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to shut down the lane, which resulted in one of the worst traffic jams in recent memory.
North Shore News readers reported it taking multiple hours to get between West Vancouver and the Seymour area, as Highway 1 and all of the feeder routes became clogged.
Miller Capilano Highway Services installed a temporary steel plate over the hole to allow for a major repair job, but the plate itself causes drivers to slow down, which has ramifications up the Cut.
Steve Drummond, vice-president of Miller Capilano, said it's no regular pothole that crews are dealing with.
“We got a few nights' work here to rectify the problem. It's not a simple little pothole that you can fix in 10 minutes or an hour,” he said. “It's a complicated, technical fix that we've got engineers involved with.”
#BCHwy1 - The steel plate on the #Ironworkers Bridge is being utilized to keep the center lane open while repairs are being performed at night.— Miller Capilano Highway Services (@MillerCapilano4) January 4, 2023
We are trying to minimize delays and appreciate everyone’s patience while we complete the repairs. @DriveBC @TranBC pic.twitter.com/UZHJHZpjPs
#BCHwy1 - Repairs to the #IronWorkers bridge deck will continue tonight & tomorrow night— Miller Capilano Highway Services (@MillerCapilano4) January 4, 2023
Crews will be working on concrete removal & steel reinforcing. A new larger metal plate will be installed tonight until work can be completed@DriveBC @TranBC @AM730Traffic @CityNewsTraffic pic.twitter.com/A0yWBRRTCd
Some of the rebar under the road surface has corroded and failed, Drummond said, so crews have had to install scaffolding under the bridge deck and do nightly lane closures as they put new reinforcing steel and fresh concrete back in.
Drummond said they are planning to install a new, larger temporary steel plate on Wednesday night and pour fresh concrete on Thursday. The weather forecast indicates conditions will be fine, Drummond added.
The new plate coming in is about a quarter of an inch thicker than the existing one, but it has tapered ends so it shouldn’t be too jarring to drive over, Drummond said.
There were reports that the plate was coming loose on Wednesday, but Drummond said they have been keeping on top of it and it is functioning as intended.
“We check it every hour,” he said. “There might be 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day going over that plate, so it's worth keeping an eye on it.”
The hole most likely opened up as a result of the deep freeze and thaw in the Lower Mainland just before Christmas. There are other cracks and “delaminations” along the bridge that contractors will also be dealing with in the next week, Drummond said, but there is nothing close to the scale of the two-foot wide hole they are currently dealing with.
“The bridge is fine,” he said.
A “small” pothole in that same eastbound centre lane caused major headaches for North Vancouver commuters on Oct. 27, 2021.