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Sid Buckwold Bridge Rehabilitation

Sid Buckwold Web Page Image

The Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge will undergo a major rehabilitation beginning on April 15, 2019. The project will also include resurfacing the Idylwyld Drive ramps over 19th Street. 

To minimize the impact on traffic and eliminate the need for a full bridge closure, the rehabilitation will happen in two phases. Phase 1 will begin on the west side of the bridge and work will continue through the 2019 construction season. In the spring of 2020, Phase 2 work will begin on the east side of the bridge and continue through the 2020 construction season. 

Here is what the project entails and what the City plans to accomplish over the next two years:

  • Deck repairs and asphalt replacement
  • Resurfacing of the Idylwyld Drive ramps over 19th Street 
  • Strengthening of piers and steps to walkway
  • Barrier replacement
  • Walkway widening with taller barriers for improved pedestrian protection
  • New drainage system to reduce puddles, hydroplaning and splashing

The City’s preservation plan, with the results of the Deck Testing Program, identified the need for this rehabilitation project to ensure the bridge remains safe, serviceable and structurally sound. 

Traffic, Pedestrian and Transit Route Impacts

Traffic

  • Two way traffic will be maintained during both phases of construction, however, there will be delays. Necessary adjustments will be made to traffic signals, construction signage will be in place and restrictions will be advertised through the media, on the City’s Daily Road Report, and on the City’s social media channels.
  • During Phase 1, the southbound lanes will be closed and 3 lanes will remain open on the east side of the bridge, allowing for 2 lanes for northbound traffic and 1 lane for southbound traffic. The walkway will remain open. For a visual, please refer to the 2019 & 2020 Construction Maps within the right column of this page.
  • During Phase 2, the northbound lanes and the walkway will be closed and the southbound lanes will be open, allowing for 2 lanes for southbound traffic and one lane for northbound traffic. For a visual, please refer to the 2019 & 2020 Construction Maps within the right column of this page.

Pedestrians

  • The walkway below the north end of the bridge will remain open during both phases. The walkway below the south end of the bridge will be closed during some phases of work.

Transit

  • Starting April 15, delays can be expected on Transit routes 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 19, 20, 81, 82, 83, 84 and 86. Riders are encouraged to consult the mobile app called Transit for real-time bus information. The routes will be impacted for the duration of this year’s rehabilitation (approximately October 31st).

About the Sid Buckwold Bridge

The Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge officially opened on October 28, 1966. Originally named the Idylwyld Freeway, the bridge was re-named in 2001 in honour of Sid Buckwold, who was Mayor of Saskatoon when it was built. Built at a cost of $1.5 million, the bridge is 183 metres long and is located at the narrowest point on the river within Saskatoon. Approximately 41,700 vehicles travel over the Sid Buckwold Bridge every day. 

Pigeon Control

An estimated 1,500 pigeons have infested Sid Buckwold Bridge over the past five decades. The build-up of pigeon poop underneath the bridge has added nearly 400 tonnes of weight to the bridge (equivalent to approximately 230 medium sized vehicles), potentially compromising the structure of the bridge and damaging concrete. 

In order to successfully rehabilitate the Sid Buckwold Bridge, it is necessary to reduce the flock and the build-up of pigeon poop in 36 cavities. These cavities are part of the bridge design, however they have created secluded areas for pigeons to breed and thrive. 

Through the bridge rehabilitation contract, a specialized pest control company has been hired for the flock reduction program to trap and humanely euthanize the pigeons and clean the bridge structure.  

The City considered a variety of options to control the pigeons. However, with the large pigeon population, large area, multiple cavities beneath the bridge deck and the probability of just displacing or moving the flock to nearby homes or other facilities, it is recommended the best action for the rehabilitation is to complete the flock reduction program and clean out the cavities.  

Once the program and cleaning is complete, barriers/fencing will be installed in the cavities and other areas of the bridge most susceptible to pigeon roosting. It is hoped this will stop damage to the structure and reduce the flock by 50-70%, ensuring the investment made in the bridge rehabilitation will last. There are three phases to the work: trapping and removing the pigeons, cleaning up the pigeon poop and building the barriers/fencing. The total cost of this work, which is part of the bridge rehabilitation budget, is $800,000.   

In addition to the serious structural damage pigeons cause, pigeon droppings may pose a health hazard to the general public, our staff and our contractors.  All City departments and contractors abide by best practices and ethical strategies to control problem animal populations.   

How do you know there’s 1,500 pigeons infesting the bridge? 

In planning for the bridge rehabilitation project an inspection was completed where it was determined that approximately 1,500 pigeons were infesting the structure.  

How did you determine that the accumulation of pigeon poop is estimated at nearly 400 tonnes? 

The Sid Buckwold Bridge has a total of 36 areas (cavities) where pigeons are roosting. The pigeon poop accumulation was physically measured in 3 of the bridge cavities, which allowed for a prediction of the total mass of poop. That total mass is estimated at nearly 400 tonnes, equivalent to 230 medium size vehicles.  

Can you explain why nearly 400 tonnes of pigeon poop compromises the structure of the bridge? 

Bridges are designed to accommodate dead load (weight of the bridge) and live load (vehicles/people) without a lot of additional load carrying capacity. In the inspection of the bridge it was confirmed that the bridge was at the limit for load carrying capacity; therefore, it was critical to have the additional 400 tonnes of pigeon poop removed.   

In addition, pigeon poop is acidic and known to damage concrete and corrode steel. The poop is located near critical concrete and steel components of the bridge, which if not dealt with, poses a risk to bridge failure.  

Why hasn’t a cleaning or pigeon control been done before? 

This area is inaccessible by normal means. The 36 cavities, which are part of the bridge design, are underneath the bridge deck which is above the river. The bridge was designed and built (in the mid-1960s) without a way for people to easily access the 36 spaces under the bridge deck. The best time for the City to have this work done is while the bridge is undergoing the rehabilitation work. Scaffolding and the proper safety structures will be put in place so workers can access these areas. It’s efficient and cost-effective.   

What does the clean-up process entail? 

The contractor is responsible for the removal of the pigeon poop. The removal is done by either bagging, dry vacuuming or wet vacuuming the poop and then disposing of it at either the landfill or waste water treatment plant as appropriate.  

How do you ensure the poop won’t go into the water?  

The poop will be collected and disposed of at the appropriate sites. The contract does not allow for the dumping of any material, construction related or pigeon poop into the water. Inspection staff will be present during the removal operation to ensure the approved methods are followed.  

Have alternatives to euthanizing been considered? 

In the years leading up to this project the City considered a variety of options to control the pigeons. Other methods, such as a falcon with a falconer, have been successful at locations where the flock is not of this scale.  

With an estimated flock of 1,500 pigeons, the best action is to reduce the flock by trapping and humanely euthanizing them. Following that, the bridge can be cleaned and barriers/fencing will be installed to help prevent further accumulation of pigeons.  

With such a large flock, it’s necessary to ensure the pigeon infestation is not relocated to nearby homes or other facilities. Like many birds, pigeons have a homing instinct and most return to their original space, so even if there are barriers are in place, the flock would be displaced to the surrounding neighbourhoods where it would similarly compromise structures.  

What does humanely euthanize mean? 

This work is contracted to animal control experts. The City doesn’t perform this job.  It’s the City’s understanding that any such contractor abides by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) position on euthanasia:  

  • The CVMA holds that when animals are euthanized, death must be quick using a method that causes the least possible pain and distress. The most appropriate method of euthanasia may vary depending on animal species, age, weight, temperament, and health status. 

Incidentally, the CVMA also has a position on pest control which is guided by the Canadian Pest Control Product Act. The position is: 

  • The CMVA recognizes that lethal and non-lethal pest control measures may need to be used against nuisance animals to reduce damage or conflict, promote sustainable agricultural production, control diseases, and/or to ensure the conservation of biodiversity. Such measures should be humane, scientifically based, have minimal environmental or human health impacts, and abide by local legislative and municipal requirements.   

The Act defines “pest” as “an animal, a plant or other organism that is injurious, noxious or troublesome, whether directly or indirectly, and an injurious, noxious or troublesome condition or organic function of an animal, a plant or other organism.” 

Would any deterrents like repellents, netting or plastic owls work, so the accumulation of pigeons over the years is slower? 

Yes. Once the flock has been reduced and the bridge cleaned, barriers/fencing will be installed to prevent pigeons from roosting within the bridge cavities again. We will continue to explore methods such as using a falcon or using sounds to deter pigeons from the bridge.  

When was the last time any clean-up of pigeon poop occurred on the Sid Buckwold Bridge? 

During the construction of the Rotary Park lift station in 2011, a pipeline for wastewater was installed across the bridge in the abutments at each end. To allow for the installation, the City had to clean out the abutments at each side. The removal of the poop and cleaning cost approximately $100,000.  

Can pigeon poop be composted?  

No. Current composting operations would not be able to accommodate this material.