Thursday, March 4, 2021

Baseline Bridge report coming to Chatham-Kent Council

A report on the Baseline Bridge in Wallaceburg is coming to Chatham-Kent Council on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Administration is presenting the following recommendations in the report:

1. The tender for contract T19-417 Structural and Mechanical Rehabilitation of the Base Line Bridge over Sydenham River, Community of Wallaceburg be awarded to the lowest bidder, Landform Civil Infrastructures Inc. of Hamilton Ontario, at a value not to exceed $2,196,194 (including HST), subject to the negotiation of an agreement satisfactory to the Chief Legal Officer and the General Manager, Infrastructure and Engineering Services.

2. If successful with recommendation “1” above, the Mayor and Clerk be authorized to enter into the recommended agreements of awarding contract T19-417 to Landform Civil Infrastructures Inc. of Hamilton Ontario.

3. If unsuccessful with recommendation “1” above, administration proceed with cancelling contract T19-417; the Structural and Mechanical Rehabilitation of the Base Line Bridge over the Sydenham River, Community of Wallaceburg and proceed with two separate tenders for the required structural work and mechanical work.

4. To offset the budgetary challenges associated with the Base Line Bridge and movable bridges in general, administration proceed with a community consultation and an investigation through Transport Canada (under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act) to explore options to convert the Dundas Street Bridge as well as the Murray Street Bridge into fixed (non-movable) structures prior to any significant rehabilitation works on these bridges in the future. Converting to fixed bridges will result in an estimated annual lifecycle savings of $500,000 but would also result in restricted upstream access.

The items is set to be discussed and voted on during Council’s electronic meeting, which is slated to begin at 6 p.m.

The staff report indicates that “due to the over budget condition” a Public Information Centre (PIC) was held on Wednesday February 19, 2020 at the Wallaceburg Service Centre.

“The theme of the meeting was ‘Similar Service… In a Different Way… Within Budget’,” staff said in the report.

“Public input was sought to examine opportunities to be creative and achieve savings. Approximately 90 people attended the PIC. A number of slides were presented that highlighted navigational clearances below all of the movable bridges in Wallaceburg, financial information, usage statistics and potential alternative solutions.”

Staff added in the report: “An on-line survey was hosted on the Chatham Kent website from February 18, 2020 through to February 24, 2020. A paper copy of the on-line survey was also provided at the PIC. Approximately 900 surveys were completed.”

Staff said some key takeaways from the survey include:

– 80% of respondents were residents of Wallaceburg.

– 64% who completed the survey owned a boat or enjoyed boating along the
Sydenham River.

– 30% (254 in total) required movable bridges (note that actual usage is 39 per year); 70% did not require movable bridges or stated the question was not applicable.

– Bridges located in the south of the chain (Baseline, Railway Bridge and Lord Selkirk Bridge) received the highest amount of support for movable functionality; Murray Street Bridge and Dundas Bridge received the lowest support for movable functionality.

– 73% of respondents favoured investment in bridges compared to other
community investment alternatives.

– 32% of respondents supported the concept that specialized and unique service levels should be paid for by the benefitting community; 68% did not support this concept.

Staff said they received approximately 40 emails as well as social media comments (in addition to the on-line surveys) from residents expressing their concerns and comments.

“Overall, the majority of public support the rehabilitation of the Base Line Bridge as a movable bridge,” staff said in the report.

The four main themes/comments people provided from the surveys, PIC, emails, and social media were:

– Boating for recreation and tourism is an important economic driver for the community of Wallaceburg. The ability to dock personal boats and watercraft is an also an important ask of the community.

– Access for seawall repairs is required in order to maintain properties. The barges that are used to repair the seawalls will need movable bridges to permit passage under the bridges and gain access to various seawalls along the Sydenham River.

– Ice breakers are required to reduce flooding that may occur in the future.

– The conversion to fixed (non-movable) structures may be feasible for the Dundas Street Bridge and Murray Street Bridges and savings will help offset budget challenges and preserve the movable bridged that lead to the downtown core from the south.

To read the full report, click here.

Back in February, Wallaceburg Councillor Aaron Hall said he and Councillor Carmen McGregor have been busy fielding calls, emails and messages on the topic.

“The response so far has been overwhelmingly in support of maintaining it as a swing bridge/movable structure,” Hall said in a social media post in February.

“Councillor McGregor and I both strongly agree about the importance of keeping the bridge as status quo and making the necessary repairs. Our waterways in and around our community are one of our greatest assets, are a focal point for many community events/leisure activities and helps shape our community’s identity.”

Both Hall and McGregor are holding a virtual Zoom meeting on Friday, April 24, 2020 at 10 a.m. to discuss the Baseline Bridge report with the public, along with other items on the Council agenda. To take part in Friday’s meeting, message, text or email Hall at aaron.hall@chatham-kent.ca.

Watch for more on this story.

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