Hwy 11 Latchford Bridge Failure 2003 Hwy 11   

Latchford Bridge Failure - © Cameron Bevers

Above - The Sergeant Aubrey Cosens Memorial Bridge on Hwy 11 after it failed in January 2003
(Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers  -  © 2003)


On Tuesday January 14, 2003, the deck of the Sergeant Aubrey Cosens Memorial Bridge on Hwy 11 in Latchford failed. A record cold snap across Northeastern Ontario during that week sent temperatures plummeting to levels well below -30 Degrees Celsius. At about 2:45 pm, a transport truck passed over the bridge. Suddenly, the driver of the truck felt his trailer load shift, and heard deafening popping sounds which he likened to the sound of shotgun blasts. The sound which he heard were the rivets tearing away from the steel cables connecting the overhead metal arch supporting the roadway underneath. The driver made it safely off of the bridge before the deck collapsed under the southbound lane of Hwy 11. Nearly one-half of the southbound lane of the bridge collapsed, the ruins hanging precariously only a few inches above the freezing, churning waters of the Montreal River.

The highway was immediately closed to traffic. The closure forced Hwy 11 traffic to detour through Quebec, resulting in detours of up to 3 hours to get around the failed structure. Luckily, pedestrians were permitted to walk across the icy Latchford Dam. Within one week, construction had begun on a new temporary Bailey Bridge across the Montreal River. A one-lane temporary bridge opened to traffic on January 27, 2003, eliminating the lengthy detour, while a temporary two-lane structure was opened to traffic on February 28, 2003.

In their analysis of the bridge failure, structural engineers determined that the deck failed due to fractures in two of the hanger rods which connected the deck to the overhead arch. Initially, only two hanger rods failed, but their failure triggered an adjacent hanger to fail as well. The MTO's engineers concluded that "the main contributors to the fatigue induced fracture of the hanger rods include: hanger pins that had seized, defects introduced in the hanger threads during construction and steel that did not remain ductile in very cold temperatures. The failure was progressive over a period of several years." (Quoted from "Sgt. Aubrey Cosens V.C. Memorial Bridge over the Montreal River at Latchford Investigation of Failure: Final Report", Ontario Ministry of Transportation, 2003)

Please click here to see more photographs of the Latchford Bridge after the 2003 failure.



Latchford 1960


The failed Sergeant Aubrey Cosens Memorial Bridge was originally opened in October 1960, and was put back into service in 2005 after the deck was reconstructed. The above photo was taken from the May 1961 issue of "Department of Highways News".




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