McCutcheon Bridge, Canada
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The small town of Bracebridge in Ontario, Canada, is renowned for its waterfalls and scenery. But
after 109 years, residents were preparing to say farewell to the historic McCutcheon Bridge as the
stone and concrete structure had succumbed to more than a century of wear and tear. The bridge
was important to the community, not only because it served as a crossing point, but also because
it was a popular point of interest for photographers, painters, and sightseers.
A replacement for the bridge was recommended in the Town’s 2008 Bridge Needs Study – a
Municipal Environmental Assessment to investigate alternatives to address both the structural
and hydraulic deficiencies experienced at the McCutcheon Bridge. The Bridge had needed a
lot of upkeep in recent years, but there was also a problem with its narrow streambed opening,
which was prone to cause flooding in the area every spring. Whilst the local community was sad
to lose a much-loved landmark, they also held out hope that a replacement would soon put an
end to the perpetual yearly flood.
In April 2014, Fowler Construction Company Limited was awarded the contract for the
replacement of the McCutcheon Bridge. The chosen replacement solution was an easy-to-install
Mabey Compact 200™ modular panel bridge supplied by Algonquin, the local distribution partner
for Mabey. The galvanized steel structure, with its anti-skid, epoxy aggregate decking and 27.4m
span would deliver many years of trouble-free service.
The Mabey C200™ system is the most popular pre-fabricated steel panel bridge system in the
world. It is the latest development of Sir Donald Bailey’s original Bailey Bridge System that played
a key part in Allied troop movements during the Second World War and in the reconstruction
efforts that followed.
A detailed design was prepared which would see the new McCutcheon bridge installed 13m north
of the old bridge. Crucially, the new bridge would have the capacity to comfortably weather a 50
year storm event, and would meet the acceptable parameters expected in the Provincial Policy
Statement for infrequent 500 year storm events.
Once the site was prepared with new abutments, Algonquin Bridge provided a site advisor and
a customised construction and launching strategy. A local construction team installed the Mabey
C200™, without the need for a crane, by launching the structure from one side to the other,
attracting interest from many curious onlookers who gathered to observe the ingenious launching
The new McCutcheon Bridge was opened for traffic on Monday September 29th 2014. Installation
had taken just three days. The new bridge will ensure safe access for residents and emergency
vehicles across the Black River, improving the river hydraulics, and reducing upstream water
levels during high flow events, whilst increasing the load carrying capacity of the crossing over
the previous structure.
Marvelling at the speed and efficiency of the installation, the local community has rallied around
their new bridge and has come to embrace it as the beginning of a new era for the town of
Bracebridge. The original bridge may be gone but it is not forgotten, and portions of the old
bridge’s concrete railings have been saved for potential use as an onsite garden backdrop.