A half-million dollar rehabilitation project of municipal structure 030, known locally as 'Bakeshop Bridge', got underway last week and is expected to be completed by mid- September.
'Bakeshop Bridge' is located near the entrance of Beautiful Joe Park on Edwin Street at the intersection of Miller Street. A notice issued by the municipality last week informed residents that a detour route around the bridge has been established.
The work to be done on the bridge includes the rehabilitation of concrete barriers and girders, the replacement of expansion joints, repairs to the sidewalk that crosses the bridge, as well as waterproofing and resurfacing of the bridge deck.
The project had been budgeted to cost a total of $454,200, with $54,200 for engineering costs and $400,000 for the rehabilitation work on the bridge, however all three of the bids received on the rehabilitation work exceeded the amount that had been budgeted.
“Understanding that all three submissions received were in excess of the approved budget, staff and the Municipality’s Consulting Engineer reviewed options to negotiate with all three proponents, but due to the required rehabilitation of the structure and the associated legislated enhancements while rehabilitating the structure (sidewalk and railing), the scope of work could not be reduced,” Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman told council in a report presented on May 29. “Although the tender award will be $35,851.31 over the construction budget, the total cost includes a $50,000 contingency allowance. Should a limited allocation of the contingency allowance be needed during the project construction phase the project may still be completed within the allocated construction budget.”
Chapman also noted in his report to council that rehabilitation of the bridge now will avoid more costly remediation work in the future for a bridge that is heavily travelled.
“Failure to remediate Structure 030 in a timely fashion will result in more costly rehabilitation or future replacement, or could result in a future closure. The closure of this structure would negatively impact approximately 1,000 cars per day that travel across this bridge,” noted Chapman in his report.
The municipality has asked that, where possible, residents refrain from parking on the road in front of their property along the detour route in order to allow for the efficient flow of traffic.
Structure 030 is one of many requiring rehabilitative work or replacement in the coming years, as council was advised in May of last year with the presentation of a state of infrastructure report focused on the 80 bridges within the municipality. In that report, council was advised that more than $30 million will need to be spent on municipal bridge infrastructure over the next ten years, and that nearly $6 million of that required work was deemed to be “urgent” by consultants Brian Wickenheiser of Ainley Group and Derek Ali of DFA Infrastructure, who presented the report to council last year. Their report identified strategies for tackling the bridge infrastructure problem that included the closure of up to nine of the 80 bridges in the municipality, debt financing, and potentially significant tax increases in the coming years.
“The state of the Municipality’s bridges and culverts is declining,” the consultants concluded in their report to council on May 16 of last year.
After receiving the report, council adopted an asset management strategy aimed at tackling the required bridge infrastructure work over the long term. Under that strategy the municipality would spend nearly $80 million on bridges over the next 51 years, an average of $1.5 million per year. Depending how the municipality chooses to finance the bridge work, municipal debt or property taxes will need to increase significantly, according to the report.
While the work on the 'Bakeshop Bridge' is expected to be completed by September 15, the fate of two single-lane bridges on the Holland-Sydenham Townline is still in limbo. Council is holding off on deciding the fate of bridges 021 and 022 on the Holland-Sydenham Townline until they can gather more information and explore as many options as possible, and at their May 8 meeting they voted to set aside $50,000 in case they determine it to be necessary to undertake a second Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA).
On January 29, 2016, the Municipality of Meaford implemented the emergency closure of the two bridges due to the results of the Ontario Structural Inspection Manual (OSIM) and recommendations from Ainley and Associates Structural Engineers, which prepared last year's State of the Infrastructure (SOTI) report for bridges in Meaford.
In September of 2016, the municipality hired consulting firm Planmac Engineering Inc. to complete a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) for the bridges, and in their report presented to council on April 10, they came to the same conclusion as the SOTI report a year earlier – that the bridges, which have been closed for more than a year, should be removed permanently, and that recommendation has area residents frustrated.
According to the MCEA report, the estimated cost to replace the bridges ranges from a low of $750,000 to $1.2 million for a corrugated steel plate culvert structure, to as much as $2.4 million for a cast in place or precast concrete culvert structure, though area residents as well as some members of council are convinced that a cheaper alternative might be available. The report also noted that the estimated daily traffic on the road prior to the bridges having been closed was 29 vehicles per day.
The resolution, brought to council by Deputy Mayor Harley Greenfield and passed on May 8, directs that $50,000 be allocated to the municipal bridge reserve fund to be available to conduct a second environmental assessment, with a reformulated problem for the assessment to address in hopes of finding options that would replace the bridges, closed for more than a year. Before embarking on a second environmental assessment, council awaits a decision from the province on the findings of the first environmental assessment after the 30-day appeal period has expired.
Several members of council also expressed a desire to more fully explore opportunities for rehabilitation of the structures as opposed to a full replacement.
Not all members of council believe that a second environmental assessment is necessary, and at least one councillor believes that the municipality should ignore the recommendations to permanently close the bridges, and should instead move toward planning to replace the structures.
“I don't want to see this dead in the water. I don’t believe we need another environmental assessment,” Councillor Steven Bartley said at the May 8 meeting. “We need an engineer’s report on how to build a bridge.”
Bartley added that he thinks that “we have to rebuild these bridges somehow, some way.”