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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Niska Rd Bridge is Closing Indefinitely; City Cites "Safety Concerns"

Enjoy driving over the Niska Rd Bailey bridge while you can, because at the end of the month you'll be able to drive across it no more! In an announcement today, the City of Guelph's own engineers are saying that there are safety concerns about the bridge's abutments due to high spring water flows and heavy rainfall. As a result, the bridge will be closed on February 28 whether you walk, ride or drive. 

“We’ve been able to prolong the life of bridge by completing various repairs since a 2013 report indicated the bridge was failing,” explained Kealy Dedman, City Engineer in a news release. “At this point however, the condition of the abutments combined with coming spring and summer river flows pose too big a risk for us to keep the bridge open.”
Safety has been a growing concern for the one-lane bridge for the last couple of years. A report said that the bridge was reaching the end of it's life and a new one would have to be constructed in three to five years, and that was almost four years ago. The City has since increased its inspections from twice a year to monthly, but an inspection done by an outside engineers consultant last year piled on the issue by saying that the Bailey Bridge only had about a year left in it, and to save it, the abutments would have to be entirely replaced.
“The current bridge was never intended as a permanent crossing here,” said Dedman. “Bailey bridges were not built to last, and we’re really seeing the effects of long-term use on this one, especially with the abutments being right in the water course.”
But wait a minute, weren't we going to replace the whole thing anyway? Yes, you recall correctly. In December 2015, council made the decision after a contentious debate, to approve a two-lane bridge and accompanying redevelopment of the surface road in the area of the Niska Rd crossing of the Speed River. The $5 million project is waiting for a response from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on the Part II Order requests filed in response to the City’s Notice of Study Completion of the Environmental Assessment before decisions about construction can be made.
“Our decision to close the bridge is in the best interest of community safety,” said Dedman. “Once we receive direction from the Ministry, we can decide how to best proceed with the deteriorating bridge.”


Marg Ruggles said...

I live off Niska on Pioneer Trail , just around the corner. More traffic for the Hanlon then. More peace in the neighbourhood. Watch out for the coyotes.

Anonymous said...

Funny that the bridge is considered to be unsafe but the city has done nothing to make it any safer. If the bridge is unsafe why wait 2 weeks to close it ? Why has the city allowed 18 wheel trucks to continue to use the bridge illegally?BTW The prior Niska Rd bridge fell into the river when a fully loaded gravel truck went over it in1974. it had been standing most likely since the early 1900's or even earlier. it defies belief that the current bridge is considered unsafe for pedestrians and bikes but transport trucks can continue to use it until the end of February? The EA process had serious flaws that is why a Part 2 order was requested. The fact that the MOECC has taken almost a year to render a decision makes you wonder if the city is closing the bridge to ire the commuters in order to pressure the MOECC. Suddenly there are now 4000 vehicles a day using Niska the CTV video said 5000 all these vehicles are using a narrow local width road with steep hills and poor sight lines so that they can save a few minutes on the daily commute - how selfish is this commuters save a few minutes of their time while having no thoughts for the residents who have to get out of their driveways or the road kill occurring on Niska thru our conservation lands and regional wildlife corridor and an area containing significant wildlife habitat in the form of a deer wintering area and overwintering area for water fowl. yes Guelph is certainly a "city that makes a difference" .