I confess, in spite of the complaints that I have heard from some folks, the Sykes Street bridge rehabilitation hasn't inconvenienced me one bit.
I have made a point of crossing the bridge at least once or twice each day even if I haven't needed to. In part because I am nosy, and I like to see how things are progressing, but also to see how well traffic is moving through the area and if there are any hold-ups which would cause frustration for motorists.
From my perspective traffic has moved well over the bridge and through the Trowbridge and Sykes intersection, even on weekends. I haven't experienced any lengthy waits myself, though I have heard some claim otherwise, but for me there have been no issues.
By contrast, I had cause to go to Barrie on Sunday, and if you want to be frustrated about sitting in traffic I would suggest a trek through that city's south end. In that one little area of Barrie there must be more retail outlets than in all of Grey County, and for as far as you can see it is cars, cars, and more cars.
I sat at red lights for far longer in Barrie than I've been held up at our little bridge, and the scenery was much less appealing – that is unless you enjoy a landscape of commercial signs and exhaust fumes.
As is pointed out in a fine article in this week's print paper about the history of Meaford's bridges (A Look Back at Meaford's Bridges, by Sorche Paterson), any frustration we might experience during this summer's bridge rehabilitation could be much worse – at least the bridge is actually there, and we are able to use half of it during this rehabilitation.
It's always fun to look back and see how things used to be. There has been a bridge on Sykes Street since 1860, when the roads were still gravel. Just nine years later the bridge was damaged by flooding – fortunately we haven't had to deal with our bridges being washed away in these parts for many years.
Some might marvel at what a bridge cost in those days. As reported in the article, in 1887 Meaford became the first town in the area with a steel bridge when one was built at the Sykes location. The cost to build the bridge was just $2,260, and that bridge lasted some 24 years before falling victim to another flood. By contrast, this year's rehabilitation of the current bridge (which was built more than 50 years ago, in 1965) will cost more than one million dollars.
Readers may remember a number of years ago when a bridge in Bognor had to be closed, and it was more than a year before a replacement bridge was ready for traffic. Bognor residents were frustrated, some were angry, just as some residents are currently frustrated about the ongoing closure of bridges 21 and 22 on the Holland-Sydenham Townline. Those two small bridges have been out of commission for three years now, but again, a look back in time shows us that it could be worse.
According to Paterson's article in this week's print paper, the Trowbridge Street bridge was out of commission for a full decade from 1948 until 1958. Imagine losing that bridge today; the hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles that cross that bridge each day would have to find another way across the river.
So if you do find yourself frustrated by a longer-than-you'd-like wait to cross the Sykes Street bridge during this summer's rehabilitation, my best advice is to read some history, or take a trek to a larger urban centre, and sit in some real traffic jams for an afternoon – you'll soon see the wait at the Sykes Street bridge as little more than a blip in time.
And just think, when the rehabilitation project is complete, everything will return to normal, and there will be no congestion or wait times to cross the river. But in Barrie, they are stuck with their traffic jams for eternity.