Forks Road Bridge future in spotlight
The City of Welland has announced next steps to be taken as it considers the future of Forks Road Bridge, which was closed earlier this month to ensure public safety.
The span at Dain City was closed to vehicular traffic on Nov. 2 after city staff discovered it was deteriorating at a faster rate than anticipated. It’s not the first time this has happened, as staff discovered erosion in April 2016. A contractor was brought in to do repairs, and it was expected the maintenance would extend the bridge’s life expectancy by several more years.
The city will hold a public open house once engineering reports are done and options determined, the City of Welland announced in a media release. The drop-in session will provide information about the condition of the bridge, options and costs. Bridge engineers and city engineering staff will be in attendance.
Staff will then present council with an information report, likely at its Dec. 11 meeting, said the release.
Council will consider the report and make a decision at the following meeting.
There will then be another public open house to inform the public of the details and timelines.
As well, the city will add information to its public engagement platform, yourchannel.welland.ca, on Dec. 12, through which residents will be able to engage in the conversation and voice their concerns and thoughts on the future of the bridge.
The bridge was constructed in 1930 as part of the Welland Canal, with the lift bridge being decommissioned in 1973 when that section of the canal was abandoned. The towers were removed in 1997, and Niagara Region downloaded ownership of the structure in 2000.
The bridge is inspected every two years, most recently this fall. A load capacity evaluation was conducted on the structure following inspection, which found that corrosion of supporting steel members was occurring at an accelerated rate, and that the posted load capacity was no longer suitable.
The release said the decision to close the bridge was made because:
• The city can't limit heavy commercial vehicles accessing the bridge;
• Winter freeze and thaw season; • Snowplows cannot access the bridge due to weight;
• Corrosion from road salts; • Unpredictability of current and future effects of advanced corrosion.