St. Marys Journal Argus
The closed-to-traffic Water Street Bridge will come under discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 4, as St. Marys Town Council tackles the topic in its upcoming Committee of the Whole session.
Councillor Stephen McCotter requested the item be added to the next meeting's agenda during a regular Council meeting tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 28). McCotter secured support for the discussion from fellow councillors.
The one-lane bridge, celebrated by heritage enthusiasts due to its status as one of very few remaining pin-connected steel truss structures left in Ontario, was closed to traffic late in 2013. Repair work had been undertaken on the bridge in 2012, but an inspection of the span by the town's engineering consultants led to a recommendation to close it to vehicular use.
In a subsequent presentation to Town Council — requested by councillors after the bridge's sudden closure — the engineer revealed that the bridge could remain open to traffic if an existing weight limit could be strictly enforced. Observations conducted by both Town staff and the engineering firm, that presentation noted, indicate that the weight limit had been regularly contravened in the months leading up to the closure.
Also in the presentation, the engineer cautioned that, if the bridge is re-opened to traffic, the potential exists that the deterioration of the structure could be hastened.
Town Council has already approved a costly Environmental Assessment (EA) looking into the possibility of either fixing or replacing both the Water Street and Wellington Street bridges. That EA is scheduled to take several months, and not be completed until 2015 at the earliest.
The Feb. 4 Committee of the Whole session begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Hall.