Paul McMunn, Director of Public Works and Utilities, shared a report regarding Confederation Bridge during Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls. Since Nov 2021, engineers at McIntosh Perry have been assessing the long-closed Confederation Bridge in Smiths Falls. Their report showed that extensive investigative work would be further required to determine if (and how) the bridge is able to be saved.
Ghassan Zanzoul, Senior Bridge Engineer, and Lisa Marshall from McIntosh Perry were on hand to answer questions from council.
Councilor Jay Brennan noted that the original bridge, which was built in 1906, “should have only lasted 50 years, it’s [been more than] 100 years now.”
Zanzoul agreed. “This bridge [has been] in service for more than twice of its [expected] life. We think this bridge should be replaced…If it was rehabbed, it would have limited capacity.” He also pointed out that bridges built today have a life expectancy of 75 years.
Councilor Brennan was clear in his position: “I am not in favour of spending any more money to find out if and how we could rehab this bridge. This bridge has been closed for 6 years, and it’s incumbent on us to make a decision on this. I think we should not spend another penny on this. Let’s replace it.”
Councilor Niki Dwyer agreed. “I think we’d just be throwing money into a money pit if we were [further] looking into the possibility of rehabilitating it.”
Councilor Wendy Alford was in agreement as well.
Councilor Chris McGuire asked if there was anything that spending more money could do to change the outcome of this report. Lisa Marshall said no, and confirmed that McIntosh Perry believes the bridge has reached the end of its service life.
Mayor Pankow shared his understanding of those who have a strong emotional attachment to this bridge. “I know it’s unique. I don’t think it’s worth rehabilitating,” he commented, referring to a report from April 2011 that said it had maybe 2 years left in it. “My answer is no; we need to move ahead and determine the future of this crossing, but I don’t think rehabbing the bridge is an option.”
Councilor Lorraine Allen admitted with evident heartbreak that she was one of the people with a strong emotional attachment to Confederation Bridge. “I ran for election on wanting to save the bridge. I wish we had done it when we could have done it. Sadly, now, I agree with my colleagues. There’s not enough left of the bridge to save.”