Forks Road Bridge fu­ture in spot­light

The Welland Tribune - - Front Page -

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.

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