Province presents bridge study to Council
Moveable bridge seen as preferred option
In an information session to Victoria County Council last week, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) presented a study on possible types of bridges that could replace existing Englishtown and Little Narrows ferries. The study, conducted by Halifax-based bridge consulting firm COWI, was designed to survey height requirements for water-based traffic in each location and determine what kinds of bridges could meet those needs. Three options for each location were examined: a moveable bridge, a high- and a low-level fixed bridge. In both places, the low-level fixed bridge was removed from consideration because it would not allow for tall-masted vessels to pass through the channels. While the high-level fixed bridge design would require the least amount of long-term maintenance, it would also require the most amount of private land to be disturbed and
the greatest amount of infrastructure to be built. “If you have a bridge that raises, you effect less of the onshore approaches to the bridge, whereas if you have a bridge that has to be very high, you have to backup onshore for the ramps and you effect more of the properties,” explained Deputy Minister Paul Lefleche. The preferred option in both locations therefore, is the moveable or ‘bascule’ bridge because it can accommodate all vertical clearance requirements, says Dr. Amjad Memon, Manager of Structural Engineering Services, and lead technical presenter at the meeting. Asked if a bridge that opens or swings would not cause similar delays as the existing ferries, Dr. Memon explained that the kind of modern moveable bridges that would be built could open and close in approximately a minute. Although that estimate does not include the time it would take for boat traffic to pass through, Paul Lafleche, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, was quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of boats could pass under the fixed portion of the bridges without the need to open the bascule. Pam Eyking, MLA for Victoria-the Lakes, along with Lafleche had called the meeting to bring the Municipal Council up to speed and see where Councillors sat on the issue. Warden Bruce Morrison made the Council’s position clear. “It’s great information, but it doesn’t answer the question, ‘are we getting a bridge?’ A bridge is the only option that we’re interested in in both locations. That’s what residents have been telling us and that’s what councillors have been telling the province.” Construction and maintenance costs for an Englishtown bridge would cost $24.7 million while a similar Little Narrows moveable bridge would require $34.2 million. How the structures would be funded was not part of the scope of the study. Eyking says public meetings will be held at a later date to present the study to stakeholders and discuss the possibility of tolls on the bridges being collected to partially pay for the projects. The report will now go to the DTIR Minister for approval, then a case needs to be made for financing that would eventually wind up at treasury for approval.
A technical drawing of 'Option 1: Moveable or 'Bascule' bridge' in the Englishtown Bridge Study released last after being presented to the Municipality of Victoria County Council. A moveable bridge is indicated as the preferred option in both Englishtown and Little Narrows to replace the existing ferries.