Todd Hewitt

Concession 2 North bridge to be torn down, replaced

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The bowstring arch bridge located on Concession 2 North over the Long Marsh Drain is going to be torn down and replaced.

The bridge, located near River Canard, will be replaced at a cost of approximately $1.2 million with replacement being the recommended option from town administration. According to a report from manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt, the new bridge will have a standard design and a 75-year design life.

Town council had two other options – replacement of the bridge with one of a similar design or repairing the current bridge – but opted for replacing it with a standard design. To repair the current bridge would have cost $927,000 but Hewitt said drawbacks of that option would be a 25-30 year probable service life and the fact bridge weight restrictions and width would remain restricted.

To build a new bridge that would look similar to the current bridge, it had a cost estimate of $1.8 million as it is “an extremely complex design to build” and would carry increased lifecycle and maintenance costs.

The issue over the fate of the Concession 2 North bridge arose earlier this year, when costs to maintain the current bridge came in higher than anticipated.

Town council has elected to tear down and replace the Concession 2 North bridge with a new bridge of modern design.

“The 2017 Capital Budget included $364,000 for the rehabilitation and repair of the existing bridge based on the estimate provided in the 2016 Bridge Inspection Report received from Keystone (Bridge Management). Based on a recommendation included in the 2016 Bridge Inspection Report, administration contracted Stantec Consulting to complete a detailed condition report of the existing structure with rehabilitation recommendations. The detailed condition report also included an estimated cost to complete the required rehabilitation work. The estimate in the report from Stantec Consulting was $842,000 plus engineering fees,” said Hewitt, in his report to council.

An RFP was issued and the matter was to be discussed at the May 23 council meeting, however Hewitt noted the town was offered pre-cast bridge beams at a “significantly discounted cost” so the matter was delayed while that option was investigated.

“Through this analysis it was determined that the beams could be used for the bridge structure but that additional work and costs would be incurred by the municipality to use the beams which would result in an overall increase to the RFP contract,” stated Hewitt.

Some of the reasons he listed for the additional costs were the because size of the footing and abutments would need to be increased significantly; the overall excavation would be larger, requiring more sheet piling; the deck surface would be increased resulting in increased materials to

treatments for the deck; the entire bridge would be 300mm higher resulting in additional roadway works and guardrails and that the banks and shoreline of the drain would need to be reshaped.

“This would result in additional costs and possible delays to receive approvals from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF),” Hewitt said. “Based on the information regarding the donated beams administration determined that accepting the donated beams was not a prudent decision that would benefit the town.”

Sisters Carmel and Patricia Ravanello, whose family owns property nearby, had pressed for the preservation of the existing bridge.

A portion of the Concession 2 North bridge is shown decaying.

“I can’t believe that it would have cost $1.2 million to repair/refurbish the existing bridge,” Carmel said in an e-mail to the River Town Times. “I am disappointed with this news not only as someone trying to preserve the history and heritage of River Canard but also as a taxpayer.”

The Ravanello sisters believe it is a historic bridge, with Patricia telling the RTT earlier this year that her research shows it was built in 1938 by the R.J. Blyth Co. She said they had placed an advertisement in The Amherstburg Echo around that time period.

They pointed out the significance of the bridge ranks seven out of ten on a national and local level according to the website www.historicalbridges.org and were hopeful of new ideas. They offered suggestions such as performing “basic maintenance” on the bridge, using it as a pedestrian and cycling bridge and build another bridge next to it for vehicles, close Concession 2 North to through traffic and have no bridge at all.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo believed the option of replacing the bridge with a current design was the most financially prudent way to go. DiCarlo did sympathize with heritage concerns noting he tries to support heritage in Amherstburg, citing the town’s purchase of Belle Vue as an example.

“The bridge was never designated heritage,” he said, adding the town is not in a position financially to spend the extra money to design a new bridge with the look of the current one.

DiCarlo added that refurbishing the old bridge was slightly cheaper but the bridge still would have had the width and weight restrictions plus a reduced lifespan.

“It seemed like a lot to saddle future generations for them to do it again in that short period of time,” he said.

The new bridge will be wider and have more room for pedestrians and cyclists and “I think that’s important to people,” said DiCarlo.

Based on the cost of bridges and culverts not just in Amherstburg but around Essex County, DiCarlo said $1 million “seems to be the going rate.” He added that environmental protections around River Canard may have contributed to the costs of the new bridge as well.

COUNCIL BRIEFS — LED lighting coming soon?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The installation of LED lighting could be coming later this year.

Councillor Rick Fryer questioned where the municipality was in the process of installing new LED fixtures in the town’s street lights. Manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt said the file is on his desk and admittedly is taking longer than he had hoped.

Hewitt said he anticipates there will be a tender out within a few weeks. He said there is a lot involved with what the town wants with regards to energy efficiency.

Canuck it Up thanks   Councillor Leo Meloche asked about recognizing the town’s tourism department, including Anne Rota and Jennifer Ibrahim, for the Canuck it Up! Festival. The town is praising the festival as a huge success, stating that an estimated crowd of 80,000 came out.

CAO John Miceli said he put out an e-mail to staff thanking them for their work, saying they pulled off “an amazing festival” for a department of two-and-a-half people.

 

Roadway   Councillor Diane Pouget questioned the police parking lot, noting it was supposed to be temporary but added concerns she has heard from residents about a possible road off of Sandwich St. S. leading to Belle Vue.

Miceli advised that there was nothing finalized with regards to the roadway to Belle Vue, pointing out it is merely a conceptual plan at this stage.

Twenty-seven per cent of town’s infrastructure either “poor” or “very poor”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town approved its new asset management plan as it hopes to find a way to start replenishing some of its aging and worn out assets.

According to a report from manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt, roughly $88.8 million – or 15 per cent – of town infrastructure is in “very poor” condition and $70.2 million – or 12 per cent – is in “poor” condition. Hewitt added there is a $47 million backlog of infrastructure replacement based on useful life with $34 million reaching the end of their useful life in the next five years.

Broken down, $42 million (33 per cent) of road infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition with Hewitt saying that is for complete replacement, not repair. Over $10 million of bridge and culvert infrastructure is in poor or very poor shape, amounting to 23 per cent. Twenty-seven per cent of water infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition, which equates to $33.9 million of the town’s water infrastructure.

About $27.8 million – or 22 per cent – of wastewater infrastructure is classified as being in poor or very poor condition with $7.4 million (17.9 per cent) of storm water infrastructure also being in rough shape.

Councillor Diane Pouget questioned the sewage numbers and Hewitt acknowledged a lot of money has been poured into that department related to sewers and the wastewater plant, “there’s still a lot of work to do.” He cited brick sewers still being in some areas of town and equipment now past its lifecycle at the plant in the McLeod Ave. area.

Thirty-one per cent ($12.7 million) of building infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition while 59 per cent of the town’s machinery and equipment – or $1.9 million worth – is in that condition as well.

Currently, $2.6 million (33.6 per cent) of the town’s land improvements such as parks assets is in poor or very poor condition while 72 per cent of the vehicle fleet can be classified as such with the latter seeing $6.2 million worth of the fleet in poor or very poor shape. There is also $1 million worth of the information technology (IT) infrastructure in poor or very poor shape, amounting to 75 per cent of that department’s infrastructure.

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The town has an average asset health grade of “C” and and average financial capacity grade of “F,” making their overall grade for the municipality “D.”

Hewitt did note that despite items, including equipment, machinery, vehicles and computers, classified as poor or very poor, they are still usable but are just prone to increased repair costs.

“I was appalled when I read this report,” said Councillor Joan Courtney. “I was sick to my stomach.”

Courtney said she was concerned that this could make any progress the town has made moot as there is over $150 million in infrastructure that is classified as being in poor or very poor shape.

“Are we going to have to raise taxes to bring down that $150 million?” she asked.

Part of Hewitt’s report noted that a 1.5 per cent increase to the general tax budget, a two per cent increase for wastewater and one per cent increase to water will be presented to council during budget deliberations.

While tax increases are at council’s discretion, CAO John Miceli said that is part of the reason the levies were introduced. He added that it was learned at the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa, there is a $10 million per day infrastructure backlog across the province’s 444 municipalities.

“We’re not the only ones with the problem,” said Miceli, adding that nine per cent of the revenue raised through the tax system comes back to municipalities while municipalities have the most assets to look after.

The asset management plan will assist in the grant application process, he added, believing water and wastewater would be top priorities of upper levels of government.

Councillor Rick Fryer said while the report “looks like doom and gloom,” he agreed that having the plan is actually good news, and that it helps Amherstburg seek federal and provincial funding as the town can present it to upper levels of government.

“I don’t think a negative spin should come out in the media,” said Fryer.

Fryer added that “I don’t think we’re very far off” from other municipalities and that there are roads that can get done thanks to such plans.

“There’s a positive spin to that,” he said.

Hewitt added that projects like the Edgewater sewer extension, Texas Road and Meloche Road all received funding from senior levels of government thanks to previous asset management plans.

 

Simcoe St./Meloche Road intersection re-opens earlier than anticipated

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

For those heading to the Woofa-Roo Pet Festival this weekend, be advised that one major construction project is out of the way.

The intersection of Simcoe St. and Meloche Road re-opened Friday and is not scheduled to close again until paving works is necessary. Even then, manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt stated that it won’t be a full closure.

“We are very happy to have it done,” Hewitt said of the intersection.

MelocheSimcoe signWEB

Hewitt said the town always wanted to have the intersection open for the Woofa-Roo Pet Festival but since the contractor got the work done in about half the time, there will be no need for a re-closure immediately after the festival.

The intersection was closed July 31 and was expected to last four weeks. Hewitt said the contractor was able to complete the storm sewer installation project in that area of the roadway in two weeks.

Users of the Libro Centre still have to use the temporary entrance off of Simcoe St., however, as the overall Meloche Road project is still ongoing.

Town council approves tender for Pickering Dr. work

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has approved a $1.1 million tender for watermain and road improvements to Pickering Dr.

The tender was awarded to SLR Contracting Group Inc. with manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stating watermain work should take six to eight weeks when it gets started. The pavement improvements and intersection work would come after that. The town used Hrycay Consulting Engineers Inc. for its engineering work, Hewitt noted.

Pickering Dr1WEB

In his report to town council, Hewitt pointed out the watermain work will go from King St. to Dalhousie St.

“The watermain on Pickering Dr. has experienced significant breaks in the past. This watermain is critical infrastructure that services a number of large commercial properties that require water to operate. It also currently services four apartment/condominium buildings along Pickering Dr. with another soon to be constructed east of Sandwich St.,” Hewitt stated in his report.

There will also be intersection improvements at Pickering Dr. and Sandwich St. S. with Hewitt noting those improvements will consist of new traffic signals, poles, pedestrian signals, sidewalks and curb upgrades.

Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

“Replacing the traffic and pedestrian signals at the intersection of Sandwich Street and Pickering Drive will bring the intersection into compliance with the provincial AODA regulations. Relocating the traffic signal poles and cabinet will better protect them from vehicular damage,” said Hewitt, in his report.

The town had set aside just over $2 million for the project in the 2017 budget. That left $967,301.16 remaining in the total project budget. Hewitt recommended that those savings be used to reduce the issuance of future long term water debt and reduce the 2018 gas tax usage.

“This will be addressed with council during the final reporting of the project,” he stated in his report.