Bridge gets a paint job!

Workers install scaffolding and platforms on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge in preparation for this summer’s $3.4 million Canadian arch painting project. (MDOT photo)

Meeting Thursday, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) Board, the bi-national body that supervises operations of the International Bridge, heard updates on several ongoing and planned projects.

The board reviewed progress by the International Bridge Administration (IBA) to replace bridge components and complete painting projects in 2017. Two contracted projects are also underway in 2017.

The Canadian arch painting project was rescheduled to 2017 after higher-than-expected bids in 2016. The arch will be painted using an alternate one-coat technique.

“I’m very pleased to report we signed a contract with Glavin Coating and Refinishing of Zurich, Ontario, for approximately $3.4 million in Canadian dollars,” said Bridge Engineer Karl Hansen. “Glavin mobilized to the work site on May 1 and has begun to erect scaffolding on the bridge.”

One lane of traffic will be closed on the arch due to scaffolding and paint containment setup, resulting in width and height restrictions on the active lanes through Oct. 31. Restrictions on both U.S. and Canadian-bound traffic will be in place at all times during the work period. The project was rescheduled to 2017 after higher-than-expected bids in 2016.

“Our priority is to maintain the bridge in good condition,” said IBA General Manager Peter Petainen. “Researching and changing to the single-coat paint system was a substantial 47 percent savings, and reduces the impact on customers to a single construction season. Benefits of this painting system include enhanced corrosion resistance, quicker completion time, and minimized disturbance to the environment and our customers.”

A project by contractor C.A. Hull to replace two rocker link arms on the U.S. arch will begin following the Fourth of July holiday. The link arms move to allow for expansion and contraction of the arch as temperature conditions change. The project, budgeted at $500,000, is expected to take approximately six weeks.

IBA maintenance staff are scheduled to replace 15 sliding plate bearings at various locations on the bridge. Work began this month with a goal to have all 15 bearings installed by October.

IBA officials predict the busy maintenance schedule will be completed with minimal impact on bridge traffic.

“While driving through construction zones it is important to slow down, especially when workers are present,” said IBA Bridge and Facilities Asset Manager Marcus Eidenier. “We have extra seasonal staff around the clock to assist with traffic control, but we strongly encourage the public to slow down and watch for traffic changes.”

For a complete list of International Bridge commercial traffic restrictions, visit the IBA website at