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March 18, 2008

Northern bridge project a winner, ENGCOMP gives two railcars a new use

Originally published in the Prince Albert Daily Herald newspaper, written by Barry Glass, Herald Staff (used with permission from Prince Albert Daily Herald)

A pair of railcars continue to help move goods, but they never move. The two decommissioned flat-deck railcars were transformed into a bridge using the engineering expertise of ENGCOMP, a consulting firm owned by Jason Mewis, a former Prince Albert resident.

Bridge Project

Photo of the completed bridge

Mewis was born and raised in the city, graduating form St. Mary High School in 1991. He went on to study engineering and worked in Saskatoon for several years until branching out on his own in June 2004.

Mewis is a registered professional engineer with the right to consult in Saskatchewan for industrial, commercial and residential structural projects.

And an interesting project for him and others at his young firm was turning the railcars into a bridge for use by Claude Resources Inc., a gold mining company with operations north of La Ronge.

For its work on the project, ENGCOMP won awards for infrastructure and technology innovation...

The bridge was installed across Monroe Creek to gain access form Claude's gold processing facility to the newly developed Santoy Gold Mine.

But it wasn't easy, said Mewis.

Claude bought the cars before any assessment of them was done. They were damaged, twisted and rusted. They were also a different size, which meant more work because the plan was to lay them side by side.

And since it was a remote location, equipment usually available, such as a crane, was not available.

"It was a challenge for sure," said Mewis.

On-site testing for hidden cracks was done and more steel had to be added for strength.

Even so, it was completed in 12 months from start of engineering to completion of construction. The bridge meets the requirements of Claude, the highway bridge code and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

It can be used as long as Claude needs it, said Mewis, which might be as long as 25 to 30 years.

For its work on the project, ENGCOMP won awards for infrastructure and technology innovation from the Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan.

Mewis said it is an honour to get the recognition. "it's an award from an association of your peers."

Some of the other engineers in the competition included former co-workers and bosses, he said.

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