Concerns over the safety of the Carleton Place central bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River next to the town hall, will lead to load restrictions. Final details are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The news comes as the town tries to figure out how best to finance the necessary repairs and upgrades to a major thoroughfare that, according to a 2017 engineering report, identifies bridge deterioration, with “the major structural members no longer able to support all traffic.”
“It’s not an emergency, we’re not planning on closing it today or anything, but it’s going to have to be dealt with in the next year or two at most,” Paul Knowles, the town’s chief administrative officer, told the physical environment committee meeting on Oct. 3. “There have to be restrictions because it does not meet the code for all vehicles. Then we’ll have to give some thought as to how we’ll actually post that.”
In the meantime, town staff will be applying for funding through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to pay the bulk of repair work. When the town applied in 2016 for OCIF funding, the estimated cost was just over $1.5 million. With the potential for almost $1.38 million available, the net cost to Carleton Place would have been approximately $153,000.
But with an increased project cost (now sitting at $1,878,525) and lower limits available in this year’s OCIF round of applications, a successful grant would still leave the town scrambling to finance the remaining $795,320. With numerous infrastructure projects on the go, council will be faced with prioritizing the bridge and ensuring necessary work is completed.
Knowles noted the irony that “the good news” is that the criteria for scoring well on the application is based on safety, and “the worse shape your bridge is in, the better chance you have of scoring success on the grant application.” While grant winners will be announced in January, town council will regardless explore the timing and funding of bridge rehabilitation during the 2018 budget process.