A project launched two years ago will continue in 2018, as Smiths Falls town councillors have agreed to proceed with the ongoing rehabilitation of three bridges spanning the Rideau Canal along Beckwith Street.
However, the project will cost the town more than anticipated, as engineers from the Belleville-based Greer Galloway Group have discovered the bridges to be in worse shape than anticipated.
As of October 2016, town council chose the rehabilitation of the Old Lock, New Lock and Pedestrian Underpass bridges spanning the canal as priorities for funding under the province’s Connecting Links Program. In March 2017 the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) agreed to provide 90 per cent funding in the amount of $1.2 million.
The town’s share will increase from the original estimate of $135,149 (10 per cent) to $560,149 (31 per cent), a $425,000 increase, due to unforeseen extra costs.
Scott Poole of Greer Galloway Group told council at a Feb. 26 meeting that the canal bridges, which date back to 1973, were last rehabilitated in 2000.
Their original design, he said, “was by today’s standards, somewhat substandard.” The concrete overlay installed over the supporting girders was thinner than it would be if built today.
“That type of construction just does not last,” said Poole.
Poole said Greer Galloway would like to rehabilitate all three bridges together by peeling off the asphalt, and fixing the underlying concrete decks.
Troy Dunlop, director of public works and utilities, said MTO officials originally didn’t agree that the three structures needed rehabilitation, but changed their minds and provided funding after sending in an inspector.
The increase in the town’s share of the project will be funded through a combination of federal gas tax funding and the town’s own tax-supported capital reserves, said Dunlop.