Friday, May 2, 2008

Timmins bridge project officially postponed

The Barber’s Bay Bridge will continue as a one-lane link on the Municipal Road (Highway 67) between Timmins and Iroquois Falls, at least for this year.
Timmins city council has decided to hold off on any reconstruction work on the bridge until it can convince the province to either ante up some shared financing, or accept the bridge back as the responsibility of the Ontario Ministry of Transport (MTO).
Council was upset earlier this year upon learning that the cost of rebuilding the 1939 bridge had nearly doubled from the original engineering estimates.
The original estimate for reconstruction of a two-lane bridge, and raising the deck, was set at $2.5 to $3 million.
But after opening tenders on March 20, the city was shocked to learn the cost was closer to to $5 million.
In his report to council this week, city engineer Luc Duval noted “it would be beneficial to the city of Timmins to slightly delay this project while discussions continue with the province to acquire more funding or upload the former Highway 67.”
The bridge was “downloaded” by the Ontario government in 1999, when it handed responsibility for Highway 67 over to the City of Timmins.
The city was presented with three options to choose from this week.
Option one was to reconstruct the bridge, without fully closing it to traffic, over two construction seasons, beginning this summer. One lane would be done one year, the second lane would be done next year. The cost would be $5 million. Duval says it would force the city to borrow $3.5 million.
The second option would be to close the bridge to all traffic, and reconstruct it over a single season, thus saving $1 million. The overall price tag would still come in at $4 million, forcing the city to borrow $2.5 million.
Option three, council’s choice, is to delay the project, pending a structural review and implementing safety procedures.
The structural safety review has been done. An engineering firm has determined the bridge is “structurally sound” and can continue as a one-lane bridge on a first-approach, first-to-cross basis, Duval reported.
The speed limit on the approach to the bridge is 60 kilometres per hour.
In approving the third option at city council this week, councillor Mike Doody noted that the city had met with the local ratepayers’ association in Barber’s Bay and that the group had agreed with council’s plan.

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