Emergency Services on Canning Bridge

Mayor Keating and Council would like to update the residents with respect to the usage of emergency services on Canning Bridge.

An email has been received from the Chief Bridge Engineer of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure clarifying the conditions and restrictions put in place for emergency services when there is a necessity to use Canning Bridge.

Please see a copy of the email below for your information.

Council ensures residents that any further updates will be provided when received from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Thank you for your patience and support in this matter.

“Emergency Vehicle Restrictions to use on Marystown Harbour (Canning) Bridge as of 15 February 2023:

Emergency Vehicles can be approved to cross the bridge in the following circumstances:

  1. They have discussed the below restrictions with the Chief Bridge Engineer and are confident that their vehicle drivers will follow the restrictions exactly in all situations that may arise.
  2. They have weighed their heaviest vehicle that is likely to use the bridge. This can be done at a weigh station (I believe the local garbage dump has one). They may have to get Service NL to weigh the individual axles if required by the Chief Bridge Engineer.
  3. The bridge is only used in the event that there is an immediate risk to life safety, in all other events they should use the diversion.
  4. Only 1 vehicle can be on the bridge at a time.
  5. The vehicle is to travel at LESS than 20 km/hr (the faster a vehicle goes the larger the dynamic forces on the bridge).
  6. The vehicle should travel down the centre of the bridge (straddling the traffic lanes, ignore the sidewalk width).

Note that only the fire service has completed restriction 1 and 2. I have tried to contact the RCMP and ambulance service but have had no success so far, but will continue to call the numbers given today. Until they have completed restrictions 1 and 2 they cannot use the bridge.

The Department is getting the snow clearing vehicle weighed to ensure that they comply with the above restrictions.

The restrictions above are in accordance with the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code CSA S6-19. We have followed the guidance from the code as to when a bridge should be restricted, and when it should be closed to traffic. This is how the Province is defining what is ‘safe’ and what is not. The code does allow the above use of the bridge for a vehicle under a “permit-controlled” scenario, which allows a greater vehicle weight, because there are more restrictions, expected compliance and hence less uncertainty which reduces the risk to an acceptable level.

Please note that the above will apply, until informed otherwise. When a bridge is near the end of its design life, deterioration is not linear and can remain stable for quite some time, or speed up. We recommend the town puts in place alternative arrangements for the emergency services as soon as possible.


Justine Geddes
Chief Bridge Engineer, P. Eng.
Highway, Design and Construction

Transportation and Infrastructure
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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