Sep 1, 2022

Building Products & Concrete Supply Part of Lock and Dam Upgrade Project

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St. Andrews, MB – Building Products & Concrete Supply (BP Concrete) has been hard at work on the lock and dam upgrade in St. Andrews, Manitoba – a project that will make the well-used route through the town safer and more efficient.

The team started work on the project in July 2021 and the westbound spans of the lock and dam should be completed by the end of this summer. The team will then begin work on the eastbound spans this fall, aiming to complete that portion of the project by mid-next year.

Dan Scherger, General Manager of Marketing, Sales and Quality Assurance, BP Concrete, noted there are a number of reasons the lock and dam are being upgraded.

“The bridge deck replacement work is being done mainly to allow for wider traffic lanes and to increase the width of the pedestrian sidewalk,” he said. “With these repairs and restoration, it’s expected to extend the service life, make it safer and more durable, and make the lock and dam easier to use. Existing load restrictions may also be removed once the project is completed.”

The project requires strategic planning so that interruption to the bridge’s use is kept to a minimum during construction, according to Braden Shaw, Sales Manager, BP Concrete.

“The general contractor, MD Steele, has been performing the repair work in small sections,” he explained. “In order to keep one side of the bridge open at all times throughout construction, and considering that it is a bridge, there is meticulous planning required in order to perform certain stages of the project.”

With this being a federal government project, there are also many requirements that BP Concrete must meet, including tighter engineering specifications, rules, and mix parameters, which can make the project more challenging than others.

“We have to ensure that every load falls within the specification window we are allowed,” said Dan. “Temperature specifications, air specifications, and slump specifications (the measure of concrete consistency and fluidity) are all crucial on each load. Our quality control department has many years of experience and confidence with these types of specifications, so we are definitely up for the challenge.”

Temperature specifications can be particularly tricky in the warmer summer days, according to Braden.

“All concrete delivered to the site must not be more than 25 degrees Celsius,” he said. “Whether it’s part of the bridge deck, sub structure, or curbs. This provides us with some challenges throughout the summer months, as our raw materials that sit outside in the heat become quite warm, and the only way to meet this temperature spec is to use a portion of ice cubes in lieu of water.”

An interesting aspect of the concrete mix used in the project is the inclusion of fly ash, a powdered coal byproduct. The fly ash interacts with certain byproducts of the cement hydration process to produce better strength-producing properties and increases the sulphate resistance throughout the mix. This can help with longer-term performance.

Ryan Braun, Operations Manager, BP Concrete, noted that the fly ash also has environmental benefits.

“By replacing a certain percentage of our cement with fly ash,” he explained, “we are reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by using a recycled product (fly ash).”

The BP Concrete team will continue to be busy working on the highly technical lock and dam upgrade project into the fall and winter, and the entire project is slated for completion by winter 2023.

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