Nipigon Bridge

When the newly opened Nipigon Bridge near Thunder Bay lifted 60 cm in January 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation was deeply concerned. Within 24 hours, temporary measures had allowed for the return of one lane of traffic, but the reason behind the bridge sudden rise from a stable position was still unknown. With opposition parties calling on the provincial government to ensure the safety of its citizens, the Minister of Transportation turned to Mark Biesinger at Surface Science Western.

It was initially thought that the cold January winter had most likely caused the failure but through the implication of the Surface Science Western's arsenal of analytical instruments, it soon became apparent the bolts exhibited good performance in cold temperatures. The bolt failure analysis revealed that the culprit was overloading. With this information in-hand, the provincial government was able to retrofit the design and ensure the safety of the bridge over its intended lifetime.