The Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge Replacement Project In Placentia, Newfoundland


  • Christopher Clark Memorial University


ENGI 8751, Coastal and Ocean Engineering, Case Study, Civil, Placentia, lift bridge,


The town of Placentia is located on the western end of the Avalon Peninsula on the east side of Placentia Bay. Placentia consists of the amalgamated towns of Placentia, Jerseyside, Freshwater & Dunville and is the centre hub for the fishing industry. Settlement in the community dates back to the 1500’s and has a rich history associated with the French, English, Irish and more recently the Americans. Harbours in the area are located inside the Northeast and Southeast arms which are connected to the sea by a small passageway commonly referred to as the gut. The gut separates the towns of Jerseyside and Placentia and there was always a need to cross the gut. In olden times the gut was crossed by using French chaloupes to ferry people across to the other side. Later, with the invention of cars more sophisticated ferries were used as transport. When the American base was set up in nearby Argentia, during the Second World War, a pontoon bridge was built to cross the gut. Unfortunately, the bridge didn’t last long with the rough tides and sea ice in the area. In the 1950’s, a ferry capable of carrying several vehicles and passengers was used to cross the gut. Finally, plans were made in the late 1950’s to construct a bridge across the gut that was capable of lifting up to accommodate vessel traffic, and in 1961 the Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge was opened to the public. Recently, this historic bridge surpassed its lifespan and has deteriorated to the point where weight restrictions for vehicular traffic were imposed. Temporary repairs to the bridge were carried out in the past year and the entire bridge is slated to be replaced. There have been challenges however in obtaining a contractor to construct the bridge at a reasonable cost. This paper will highlight the economic advantages of having such a bridge in the region, a description of the project, and the challenges and lessons learned by constructing a bridge in the area.


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Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)