Options aired for ag­ing bridge in Dun­das

Im­prove­ments sought on 90-year-old King Street West span over Spencer Creek

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MARK MCNEIL mm­c­neil@thes­pec.com 905-526-4687 | @Markatthes­pec

It’s a trou­bled bridge over trou­bled wa­ters.

And ob­servers hope that by re­plac­ing the first they can also make some strides at im­prov­ing the se­cond.

The King Street West bridge over Spencer Creek in Dun­das is 90 years old and needs to be re­placed.

“The bridge needs to be fixed. There is no ques­tion about that. The bridge as it is does not meet cur­rent stan­dards,” says Dun­das Coun. Ar­lene VanderBeek.

The project is go­ing through an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment process that in­cluded a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion evening Wed­nes­day in Dun­das.

Project man­agers pre­sented four options for deal­ing with the bridge that ranged from do­ing noth­ing (not re­ally a choice when looked at closely), to fix­ing or re­plac­ing the bridge in the same place, to build­ing a new bridge be­side the old one.

The designers like the last op­tion in a project that is ex­pected to cost close to $3 mil­lion. It would al­low the old bridge to be used for traf­fic while the new one gets con­structed. And start­ing anew in a slightly dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion would al­low greater flex­i­bil­ity in build­ing a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly bridge.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Tys Theysmeyer — who at­tended the ses­sion last night — said, “Spencer Creek is the main river of this whole area and it has been long con­strained by the small old bridges.

Un­der­neath the bridge, he said, is “ba­si­cally a con­crete chute.” He ex­pects a newly con­structed bridge — built by cur­rent stan­dards — would be more mind­ful of fish habi­tat as well as flood­ing im­pli­ca­tions.

Theysmeyer, who is also head of nat­u­ral lands at the Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, says “it’s ba­si­cally been a fight with the river un­der the bridge. A lot of con­crete has been put in there and it’s re­ally a con­crete chute.

“As well as be­ing use­less as fish habi­tat, it has the worse ef­fect of su­per­cool­ing the wa­ter in the win­ter when it gets cold and gen­er­at­ing ice jams and floods.”

Wayne Ter­ry­berry, of the Hamil­ton Burling­ton Trails Coun­cil, says the bridge is also a “pinch point” for cy­clists and walk­ers — who are poorly ac­com­mo­dated on the nar­row bridge — and hopes the fi­nal design will make it wider.

“I’m re­ally hop­ing to see an im­prove­ment in trail con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Dun­das up to Greensville. Ba­si­cally, if you live in Greensville and you don’t have a car, you can’t get to Dun­das.”

Theysmeyer, who is also on the trails coun­cil, says the re­con­struc­tion project has the ca­pac­ity to “to turn the bridge into a much friend­lier place to visit whether you are a per­son or a fish.”

But VanderBeek says there are other con­sid­er­a­tions. “I would like them to move the bridge as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. We al­ready have an is­sue with peo­ple go­ing too fast on that hill and I am con­cerned that if they straighten it out too much, peo­ple are go­ing to fly down that hill.”

She hopes the re­con­struc­tion can be done with a min­i­mum im­pact on the nearby Fisher’s Mill Park.

The bridge needs to be fixed. There is no ques­tion about that. The bridge as it is does not meet cur­rent stan­dards. COUN. AR­LENE VANDERBEEK

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