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Eighth Street bridge to open Thursday

Returning soon: Traffic to the Eighth Street bridge.

FILE PHOTO Enlarge Image

Returning soon: Traffic to the Eighth Street bridge.

The Eighth Street bridge is about to go on a weight-restricted diet.

The bridge, which was smashed into by a private dump truck in mid-January, will be reopened by Thursday — two days shy of a full five months being closed.

Although newly patched-up with a steel brace to replace the concrete one that was hit over the winter, the city says they're going to keep heavy trucks off the bridge in an effort to extend its life.

A weight limit of five tonnes will be strictly enforced on the bridge, the city says, so they can stretch as much life out of it. Previously, the weight limit on the bridge was 13.6 tonnes.

Revised transit routes will stay in place so that buses continue to avoid the bridge, although an exception to the weight limits will be made for emergency vehicles or for city vehicles doing bridge maintenance.

Both the First Street Bridge and the Daly Overpass are also awaiting either major upgrades or replacement, as is the beleaguered Eighth Street span. It's been on the city agenda since at least 2010, when a full rehabilitation or replacement was expected to be complete by 2013.

Portions of the bridge date back to 1934, although much of it was rebuilt in 1968. It was last rehabilitated in 1999.

Plans to either rebuild or replace the bridge were drawn up in 2013, but city officials were balking at the costs, which were estimated at $20 million to $34 million. The day before it was hit, Coun. Murray Blight said he supported making the bridge a pedestrian walkway only.

City workers will be installing weight-limit signs on the bridge today, and street sweepers will be cleaning it tomorrow. It will be open when cleaning is complete.

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