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.

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