Study to determine swing bridge future now underway

MANITOULIN—The Ministry of Transportation notice of study on the future of the Little Current Swing Bridge is underway and Islanders are encouraged to have their say. The study is being done by Stantec Consulting Limited.

“The existing bridge is nearing the end of its service life,” the notification, found on Page 2 of this newspaper, states. “The purpose of this study is to identify a Recommendation Plan that addresses current and future transportation needs at the bridge crossing.”

Last June the swing bridge experienced a number of mechanical failures stemming from one of its ‘wedge assemblies’––a piece that helps support the bridge when it is closed to allow traffic to cross. The broken piece followed by repair time meant that the regular on the hour every hour swing was thrown into flux, leaving boaters, and travellers by rubber tire, to carefully plan their journeys. While the bridge was under repair, bridge workers manually opened and closed the over 100-year-old mechanical marvel.

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The broken bridge was the talk of Manitoulin during late June and early July 2017 with voices protesting the aging structure and calling for a new bridge while others say that the government must do everything in its power to protect the heritage site. Those people will now have their say.

The notice explains that the study is a Group A project under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities “and includes undertaking environmental and engineering field investigations and seeking input from stakeholders, external agencies, Indigenous communities and the public.”

“This study will review existing conditions and conduct a transportation needs assessment to determine the scope and extent of crossing requirements,” the notice continues. “A study design report will also be completed and will be made available for public review,” going on to note that the purpose of the report is to justify the project’s need, define the study area, assess alternative crossing types (like a chunnel, for instance), and document the Class A Environmental Assessment process.

The most recent traffic data for the swing bridge comes from 2016 and showed that the average daily count is 3,200 vehicles, rising to 4,250 vehicles a day in the summer months.

Three Public Information Centres will be announced through ads in this newspaper and by notification through a mailing list, to which one can be added by emailing projectteam@swingbridgestudy.ca.

The website swingbridgestudy.ca will also feature project information as it becomes available.

For more information, please contact Gregg Cooke, consultant project manager with Stantec. People can call him at 905-381-3221. Collect calls can be made to 905-385-3234. Email contacts are to: projectteam@swingbridgestudy.ca. Melissa Delfino, senior project engineer with the MTO, is available to speak to at 1-800-461-9547 or by emailing her at projectteam@swingbridgestudy.ca.

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