GUYSBOROUGH – On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 7, 2020, a tractor trailer hauling a crane was on Tittle Bridge, the span that connects Durrell’s Island with the communities of Canso and Hazel Hill, when the bridge collapsed.
The driver and load fell approximately 12 feet into the water.
According to an incident report released to The Journal through a Freedom of Information Act application, the water level was at the bottom of the truck’s door and the driver, who told nearby co-workers he was okay, climbed out of the truck. The driver was taken to hospital for observation and later released.
In the witness statement provided for the incident report, the driver wrote, “I proceeded to slowly drive over the bridge. There was no noise or signs of anything happening to [the] bridge. It made a big bang and then all I knew; I was in the water.”
Documents relating to the Tittle Bridge collapse include a special move permit issued to Alva Construction Limited on June 26, 2020 for the transportation of a crane on a tactor trailer. The permit notes a number of conditions including that the “mover will be held responsible for all damages caused as a result of the moving of the special move permit vehicle” and the permit “is not valid on steel truss bridges except those on 100-series highways.”
Durrell Island Road, the location of the steel truss Tittle Bridge, is not a 100-series highway.
Information provided to the province from Alva construction in response to a compliance order issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education stated that there was no email correspondence between TIR (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) and Alva, “with regard to the load capacity of the bridge and the transportation of equipment/material across the bridge.”
In the incident report form filed by Alva on July 21, 2020, the immediate cause of the bridge collapse was ascribed to driving the truck, trailer and crane across the bridge.
Information supplied by Alva noted that weights of up to approximately 40,000 kilograms were transported across the bridge prior to the collapse. The crane, truck and flatbed together weighed just more than 61,000 kilograms.
Last week, Monica MacLean, communications advisor with Communications Nova Scotia sent the following information about the Tittle Bridge collapse to The Journal via email: “The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration has concluded its investigation into this matter. As a result of the incident, the Department of Public Works (formerly the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) and Alva Construction were each issued two Compliance Orders. The Department can confirm that all Orders have been complied with.
“The cause of the collapse was attributed to driving an overweight load across the bridge. This falls under the jurisdiction of Vehicle Compliance,” she wrote, adding in an additional email that no fines had been issued in relation to this incident by the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
An email sent to The Journal on Monday, May 5, by Deborah Bayer, communications advisor for the Department of Public Works, noted that the truck driver involved in this incident was issued a ticket.