The Woolwich Observer

Woolwich moves ahead with pedestrian-only design of Peel St. bridge

- Steve Kannon

FINAL DESIGN PARAM ETERS FOR REHABILITA­TING the Peel Street bridge having been approved this week, Woolwich will look at sending the job out to tender later in the year.

The decision at Monday night’s meeting came as councillor­s rejected a last-minute request to make allowance for snowmobile traffic on the structure.

Les Bauman of the Bridgeport Snowmobile Club found some sympathy for his pitch to maintain the decades-old use of the bridge as part of local trails, but council was in no mood to re-open what had already been an at-time contentiou­s process.

The bridge will be rebuilt to accommodat­e only pedestrian­s and cyclists, not motorized vehicles. The final design will include a centered walkway, wood deck and convention­al railing that will retain the shell of the historical structure.

“I can’t see how we can open this up again,” said Coun. Larry Shantz, who along with fellow Ward 3 representa­tive Murray Martin had pushed for the crossing to be open for all vehicles.

Given Winterbour­ne residents’ calls to maintain the heritage value of the bridge and convert it for pedestrian use, council ultimately went that route, which was also the least expensive of the rehabilita­tion options. The cost of the repairs has been estimated at $1.1 million.

Built in 1913, it’s one of the few steel truss bridges remaining in the area.

While Bauman’s bid to include provisions for snowmobile­s got some support from Mayor Sandy Shantz and Coun. Scott McMillan, the prospect possibly scrapping the design work done to date and reopening the debate eventually scuttled the idea.

Engineerin­g project supervisor Ryan Tucker told councillor­s accommodat­ing snowmobile­s would require the reopening of the environmen­tal assessment process, reworking the design to keep pedestrian­s separated from the vehicles and incurring more costs.

Safety concerns mean the current narrow, centered laneway wouldn’t work, with liability becoming an issue, said Tucker, stressing that motorized vehicles should be kept from the bridge.

“I think we have to keep it strictly for pedestrian­s and cyclists,” said Coun. Shantz.

The decision is in keeping with earlier decisions that not only precluded motorized vehicles, but did not allow the bridge to be crossed by horse-drawn buggies. Staff maintained there was no way to accommodat­e buggies without the risk of motorized vehicles crossing it, noting many people don’t respect posted signs or load limits. Repairing the bridge to reinforce it for heavier vehicles would be cost-prohibitiv­e, and such usage would severely shorten its lifespan, staff found.

The constructi­on work will be put out to tender later in the year to allow for a contractor to begin work over the winter if there are issues with in-river constructi­on during the spring when adjustment­s might have to be made for aquatic life, said Tucker.

 ?? Leah Gerber ?? Elliot Schleuter, Blaire Durrer, Brody Durrer and Reid Schleuter lend a hand during a tree-planting event May 5 at Bristow Creek Park in Elmira.
Leah Gerber Elliot Schleuter, Blaire Durrer, Brody Durrer and Reid Schleuter lend a hand during a tree-planting event May 5 at Bristow Creek Park in Elmira.

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