bridge

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.

Sisters hoping to see Concession 2 North bridge preserved

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of sisters are taking action with the hope of saving the bridge on Concession 2 North near River Canard.

The fate of the bridge is currently up in the air as the town has several options for what to do with the decaying structure, but Carmel and Patricia Ravanello hope the option of demolition isn’t chosen. Carmel said they were out at their family’s property one day and saw measurements being taken on the bridge and questioned a worker as to what was going on. Patricia added they talked to a worker and he said there was a tender out for removal and replacement of the current bridge, so they took action and found the tender. They followed up by contacting town administration.

The fate of the Concession 2 North bridge will be discussed by town council May 23 but  sisters Carmel and Patricia Ravanello hope the final result isn’t demolition of the bridge.

The fate of the Concession 2 North bridge will be discussed by town council May 23 but sisters Carmel and Patricia Ravanello hope the final result isn’t demolition of the bridge.

“We want it to be repaired, if anything,” said Carmel.

The Ravanello sisters believe it is a historic bridge, with Patricia stating 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 also built the St. Joseph Church bridge,” said Patricia.

Carmel noted that bow arch bridges, like the one on Concession 2 North, are rare and that they just wanted to bring attention to what is going on. The sisters point out the significance of the bridge ranks seven out of ten on a national and local level according to the website www.historicalbridges.org. They said they realize costs are a factor and know estimates are higher than the $365,000 the town has budgeted for the bridge, but they just want to spark new ideas.

While they point out they are open to all ideas, the Ravanello sisters offer additional 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.

“We’re not saying close the bridge but it’s an option,” said Carmel.

They acknowledge concerns that the bridge is too narrow, but Carmel believes that can be overcome with proper signage warning of the width of the bridge. Patricia adds that it “serves as a traffic calming” device with the sisters concerned over speeding in the area.

“Our concern is the bridge,” said Carmel. “We’re open to anything. I’m just not open to it being demolished. We’d like to see it maintained.”

“We’re very negotiable,” said Patricia.

A portion of the Concession 2 North bridge is shown decaying. Council will get a chance to discuss the bridge's fate May 23.

A portion of the Concession 2 North bridge is shown decaying. Council will get a chance to discuss the bridge’s fate May 23.

Todd Hewitt, the manager of engineering for the town of Amherstburg, said there will be a report going before town council May 23. He said estimates to repair the bridge came in “significantly higher” than the original cost for bridge repairs that was budgeted for so the town issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to replace the bridge.

Three options will be presented to council, including repairing the bridge, replacing the bridge with a standard look, and replacing the bridge with a similar looking bridge.

“What we’re trying to do is give council all the options,” said Hewitt. “Obviously, they have different costs associated with them.”

Hewitt said council has to make the choice as it has become a budgetary matter due to costs exceeding the original budgeted amount.

“We just want to give council all of the options so they can make an informed decision,” he said.

The town has no records on the age of the bridge, he added, and that there is some useful life left in the bridge but noted it will eventually reach the end of its serviceable lifespan. While there is life left in it, he cautioned there will be “significant costs” to bring it back up to standard.

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.