County approves $500,000 worth of restoration work to River Canard bridge



By Ron Giofu


Essex County council has approved a tender for the River Canard bridge, which was higher than what the county originally bargained for.

The tender was awarded to Front Construction Industries at an amount of $495,221.24 plus HST with the county having originally estimated the project to cost $400,000. The bridge was included as an “early release” project in January, meaning it was advanced to the tendering process prior to approval of the 2016 county budget.

“Despite the unfavourable variance between the Engineer’s Estimate and the tender results for this project, Administration anticipates that sufficient favourable tender results from other projects will be available to absorb this overage,” stated director of transportation services/county engineer Tom Bateman in a written report to town council.

The River Canard bridge will be repaired later this summer. It will be shut down for three months starting in late June.

The River Canard bridge will be repaired later this summer. It will be shut down for three months starting in late June.

Peter Bzuik, the county’s manager of design and construction, noted the bridge is “geographically located near a provincially significant wetland.” Because of that, significant dust control measures are necessary.

Staging and labour intensive work may have also caused the price to go higher than anticipated.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott questioned whether the county should re-tender the work given that the price came in almost $100,000 higher.

“I have a problem with giving $100,000 extra on a project that we don’t think should be worth that kind of money,” said McDermott.

Bzuik told county council that when a project is re-tendered, the price can come back higher than the original tender due to information from the first tender now being public.

“That’s a bit of a risk,” said Bzuik. “All cards are on the table.”

Leamington Mayor John Paterson said he was supportive of the tender but admitted “$100,000 over-budget is not small potatoes.”

Paterson wondered if the project could be re-tendered next year but Bzuik noted that waiting a year could result in additional repairs needed to the bridge.

“We could see increased costs because the scope of the work is going to grow,” said Bzuik.

Bateman said in his report that the bridge is “an extremely unique and rare structure” There were originally four “tied arch” or “bowstring” bridges on the county road network but the River Canard bridge is the only one of those four that still exists.

The River Canard bridge was first built in 1937.

The bridge will be shut down in late June and is expected to remain closed for about three months.

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