One Road Connects Canada; Country Split in Half After One of Its Bridges Damaged

Canada is the second largest country by total area, only trailing Russia. It stretches 2,875 miles from its southern border with the United States to its northernmost lands less than 500 miles from the North Pole. However, those needing to drive from eastern Canada to western Canada or vice versa have only one option: the Trans-Canada Highway. This is because it is the lone road through parts of northwestern Ontario.

It goes over several bridges in this part of the country, the largest of which is the Nipigon River Bridge. It’s 827 feet long and located near Nipigon, a small township of 1,631 people situated 60 miles northeast of Thunder Bay and 800 miles northwest of Toronto.

Canada was essentially split into two on Jan. 10, 2016, when an expansion joint was lifted 2 feet. This was caused by the high winds that resulted from a winter storm. Although the damage that was done was not extensive enough to preclude passenger traffic across it, vehicles could not use it, which crippled commerce between the two major regions of Canada and also precluded individuals from driving from one side of the country to the other.

While it was closed, the only two options for vehicles traveling across Canada was to cross an international border and do part of the trip in the United States, a detour expected to add about 19 hours on to the trip, or wait.

Fortunately, the wait was not too long as one lane of traffic was reopened about 17 hours later. However, this led to a significant bottleneck effect as that one lane had to alternate between eastbound and westbound traffic. It took more than a month, until Feb. 25 of that year, before it was reopened in both directions simultaneously.

A second span of the Nipigon River Bridge is being constructed, which will provide two points of failure here as one span being damaged would not cripple transportation as long as the other was undamaged.