By Haley Ryan - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - Halifax Harbour Bridges have presented a shuttle system as a solution during future construction on the Macdonald Bridge, but at a public meeting Tuesday night many people say free ferry service for active commuters is a better idea.
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
A cyclist makes his way to Dartmouth on the Macdonald bridge bike lane on Tuesday
The bridge authority gave details during the meeting about the redecking project on the Macdonald Bridge set for 2015, including the fact both walkways need to be removed during the 18-month construction period.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to go and replace, in segments, the bridge deck on the suspended spans where the orange cables are above the deck in 20 metre segments,‚ÄĚ said Jon Eppell, bridge engineer.
Eppell said the old parts of the deck will be lowered to a barge, and then a new surface put in place. Large blocks will be kept on the new deck for ballast, since it‚Äôs a lighter weight than the original 1955 deck.
He said the work will typically be done overnight when the bridge is closed from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., and on some weekends.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not that you won‚Äôt be able to use a sidewalk and bikeway, there will not be a sidewalk,‚ÄĚ Eppell said to the Dartmouth Sportsplex crowd.
Dennis Kelly, operations manager for HHB, said they may buy three shuttle buses which seat about 15 people and would pull a trailer carrying 16 to 18 bikes to ship people to and from Halifax to Dartmouth any time of day for free.
When the bridge is closed overnight Kelly said people would be taken across the MacKay.
Gay McCarthy bikes across the Macdonald every day and was among those who liked the idea of a free ferry ride to make up for the closure.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs got to be a way‚Ä¶ we can actually prove we bicycled to the ferry, somebody didn‚Äôt just take it off the car,‚ÄĚ she said, adding the shuttle didn‚Äôt appeal to her because it would make her commute longer and more stressful.
Eppell said when the project is finished in the fall of 2016, the bridge path will have an extra 18 inches between the hangers and it will be raised up to 52.1 metres to allow larger ships to pass.