Farm­ing trumps tourism on bridge is­sue

Simcoe Reformer - - FRONT PAGE - MONTE SON­NEN­BERG Mson­nen­[email protected] post­media. com

Agri­cul­ture scored a nar­row win over tourism at Nor­folk coun­cil Wednes­day.

In a 5- 4 vote, coun­cil voted to re­place the Bai­ley bridge on Nor­folk Road 45, east of High­way 59, with a two- lane con­crete struc­ture.

The vote set­tled a de­bate over whether the de­fec­tive bridge should be re­placed with a sin­gle­lane pony- truss style struc­ture or a heavy- duty struc­ture that can ac­com­mo­date trucks, large trac­tors and their im­ple­ments, and high- speed traf­fic.

In De­cem­ber, some coun­cil­lors suggested the in­stal­la­tion of an old- fash­ioned steel bridge. Mayor Kristal Chopp said many find such bridges in­ter­est­ing and at­trac­tive and will drive long dis­tances to check them out.

Oth­ers on coun­cil wor­ried about cre­at­ing a bot­tle­neck on a county road where busy farm­ers don’t have time to drive around the con­ces­sion to get to their fields.

“Sin­gle- lane bridges are charm­ing, but we have to look to the fu­ture,” said Delhi Coun. Mike Colum­bus, who tabled the mo­tion for the larger struc­ture.

Sup­port­ing the two- lane op­tion in a recorded vote were Colum­bus, Lang­ton Coun. Roger Gey­sens, Sim­coe Coun. Ian Rab­bitts, Wind­ham Coun. Chris Van Paassen and Sim­coe Coun. Ryan Tay­lor.

Sup­port­ing the sin­gle- lane op­tion were the mayor, Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin, Water­ford Coun. Kim Huff­man and Port Rowan Coun. Tom Mass­chaele.

Chopp was dis­ap­pointed with the out­come.

“I think we need to put our fo­cus on tourism in Nor­folk County,” she said.

Con­ster­na­tion was added to dis­ap­point­ment when coun­cil learned that staff’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the sin­gle- lane op­tion – as di­rected by coun­cil Dec. 11 – re­sulted in a 91- page re­port per­formed by G. Dou­glas Vallee Ltd. of Sim­coe. New mem­bers of coun­cil were shocked to hear that the re­port cost the county $ 12,000.

Chopp was be­wil­dered that Vallee Ltd. did the in­ves­ti­ga­tion when the Dec. 11 res­o­lu­tion di­rected county staff to do so.

Nor­folk con­tracted out its struc­tural en­gi­neer­ing work to Vallee Ltd. in 2010.

The county does not keep a struc­tural en­gi­neer on staff be­cause of the high cost and be­cause there is not enough work to be done.

Nor­folk out- sources this work to Vallee Ltd. on a needs ba­sis and that is what staff did in re­sponse to the Dec. 11 res­o­lu­tion.

“I’m con­fused how an en­gi­neer­ing firm was hired with­out the di­rec­tion of coun­cil,” Chopp said.

Martin and Huff­man were also dis­ap­pointed with the ex­pense. They both said they will be more care­ful in the fu­ture to as­cer­tain costs be­fore vot­ing for these in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

For his part, Mass­chaele sup­ported the sin­gle- lane bridge op­tion be­cause that is $ 200,000 less ex­pen­sive than the two- lane pre­fab­ri­cated re­place­ment.

Wednes­day’s res­o­lu­tion came dur­ing coun­cil’s day- long dis­cus­sion of the rate- sup­ported wa­ter and sewer bud­get for 2019 and the county’s 10- year cap­i­tal bud­get.

Mass­chaele said coun­cil had made lit­tle head­way Wednes­day trim­ming any­thing from the cap­i­tal bud­get and should take the $ 200,000 in sav­ings that pre­sented it­self.

All bud­getary de­lib­er­a­tions this week are ten­ta­tive in ad­vance of Nor­folk’s con­sol­i­dated, levy- sup­ported bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions at the end of the month.

MONTE SON­NEN­BERG / SIM­COE RE­FORMER

In a 5- 4 vote Wednes­day, Nor­folk coun­cil de­cided it will re­place the de­fec­tive Bai­ley bridge on Nor­folk Road 45 south of Lang­ton with a two- lane pre­fab­ri­cated con­crete struc­ture. Some on coun­cil wanted some­thing more quaint such as a sin­gle- lane metal bridge of the kind that dot­ted the lo­cal coun­try­side 100 years ago.

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