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Glasgow Street bridge set to reopen

After a $267,000 repair including the replacement of stringers, a new deck using laminated wood, a new tar-and-chip surface and various welding spots, the Glasgow Street South Bridge in Conestogo is nearly ready to reopen.

Woolwich officials expect the span to resume carrying traffic next week.

While the bridge is structurally sound at this point, the final work – including the waterproofing and resurfacing – has been put off until next summer, when the weather is more cooperative.

“The crew is out there putting the last touches on it now for its reopening,” said Richard Sigurdson, engineering project supervisor for the Township of Woolwich. “But it will be closed down for a period of time in the summer as well for some other things.”

In September, Woolwich councilors awarded a $267,000 contract to Looby Builders of Dublin, Ont. to carry out the work, a decision considered to be a quick-fix. The repairs were considered the best medium-term solution, with other options two and three times higher. In the longer-term, the township will have to look at a major rehabilitation project, or perhaps even replacing the structure.

“It is going to be reopened with the understanding that it will need more permanent fixes in the future,” said Sigurdson.

The 124-year-old bridge is mounted on pins that cause some natural movement in the structure, but not to the extent caused by the kind of speeding traffic that was never envisioned in the 19th century.

“The reality with very old structures like this is that they need to be inspected every year,” said Sigurdson. “There will be a shopping list of things to do to the bridge every year to make sure it’s safe to use.”

A funding plan and rehabilitation schedule is expected to be part of the 2011 budget process now underway.

The bridge was closed for several weeks last fall when the deteriorating deck was deemed unsafe. The township spent $36,000 for interim repairs.

The previous deck, also wood, lasted 13 years. With better technology and materials to be used this time, the township expects 15 to 18 years of use from the new deck.

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