Weathering the Storm

The Hartney Bridge​​ in southern Manitoba connects two sections of regional highway PTH 21 over the Souris River and is a vital route for local residents, tourists, and commercial transporters. In 2011 the bridge was compromised during record-breaking flooding.


The completed two-lane Hartney Bridge was built to
withstand Manitoba’s adverse climate.

The Hartney Bridge connects two sections of
regional highway over the Souris River, and is a
vital route for local residents, tourists, and
commercial transporters.

Heavy snowfall from the previous winter and frequent spring thunderstorms caused the Souris River to swell and burst its banks, creating a natural disaster with more strength than a 100-year flood. The high water forced several communities to declare a state of emergency and damaged infrastructure throughout the province. Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) installed a one-lane acrow, a type of temporary bridge, over the existing structure to serve as an interim solution until construction on the bridge and associated road work could begin in 2013.

The completed two-lane Hartney Bridge is elevated to safeguard against future flooding, and added erosion protection on the banks means that traffic will continue to flow when and if waters rise. Upgrades include new concrete girders, a poured concrete deck, asphalt paving, and realigned approach roads.


The winter of 2013–2014 was the coldest winter on record in Manitoba since 1898. The concrete substructure for the new bridge was poured during the depths of winter, and the project team worked in temperatures averaging –30 degrees Celsius (–22 degrees Fahrenheit). To keep the concrete viscous, the team built covered hoardings around the pour, warmed by the indirect heat of multiple propane heaters.

Flooding again plagued the jobsite and much of southern Manitoba in the summer of 2014. The project team pulled out of the flood plain and moved the trailers, laydown area, formwork materials, and temporary power to higher ground for three weeks until the waters receded. The team put in extra hours when the weather allowed, to offset the delay, and the project stayed on schedule.


A major component of the project was the dismantling of the temporary acrow bridge installed by MIT, which had allowed traffic to continue passing over the river during construction. The dismantling process required precision and attention to detail, as the acrow is reused when a bridge of similar design somewhere in the province needs repair or replacing. The project team studied the method for both dismantling and erecting this specialized structure, which is made of modular pieces that bolt together like a large truss, and for cataloguing the various components so they could be shipped systematically to the next location. The team self-performed the work and can now capably install and relaunch the acrow bridge for other infrastructure transportation projects in Manitoba.

With work on the Hartney Bridge now complete, residents and motorists can enjoy a safe river crossing and rest easier knowing that the bridge is built to withstand Manitoba’s adverse climate.​​​​​​​​


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