Woolwich’s plans to inspect its bridges took on a little more urgency Tuesday when loose boards on the deck of the Glasgow Street bridge forced its closure.
The old steel truss bridge will remain closed until a detailed inspection and the appropriate repairs make it safe to carry traffic, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors.
The closure came on the same day Kennaley planned to bring a report to council recommending the hiring of an engineering consultant to inspect bridges and culverts in the township, as required by provincial legislation.
As well as receiving a $59,000 contract to carry out the work, Gamsby and Mannerow Ltd. will also move quickly to inspect the closed bridge near Conestogo, council decided. If any other deficiencies are spotted, the repair work will expand to encompass them.
The larger inspection project – required every two years – includes some 30 bridges and a dozen culverts. The previous inspection in 2007 identified the Glasgow Street structure as a high-priority subject for reconstruction, estimating the cost at $2.5 million. While the larger job has yet to be budgeted for, the township is looking to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.
Longer term, major work could be needed to lift the current five-tonne load limit on the bridge, said Kennaley.
Built in 1886, the metal bridge is mounted on pins that cause some natural movement in the structure, but not to the extent caused by the kind of speeding traffic that was never envisioned in the 19th century.
Coun. Mark Bauman, noting that construction on Northfield Drive might encourage more drivers to use Glasgow Street as a bypass route, suggested the bridge closure might have come at an opportune time. On a typical day, the light traffic can be accommodated, but having several cars on the deck at the same time could easily exceed the load limit.
“I would encourage you to delay opening it until that (paving) is done,” he said to Kennaley.
The Region of Waterloo began work Monday on a stretch of Northfield Drive between Sawmill Road and University Avenue in Waterloo. That project is expected to take three weeks.
In a discussion about whether to reopen the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists, Mayor Bill Strauss suggested the township seek legal advice about the potential liability.