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Load limits adjusted on two Woolwich bridges

Recent tests have prompted Woolwich to change the load limits on two of its bridges, part of an ongoing assessment of the township’s road and bridge inventory.

An analysis of the Peel Street Bridge in Winterbourne reveals its load capacity should be dropped to three metric tonnes rather than 10, severely reducing the types of vehicles that can cross it.

It was a different story for the Middlebrook Place Bridge, where the load limit is set to increase to four tonnes from three.

The changes were approved by Woolwich councillors meeting Feb. 1.

In the case of the Peel Street Bridge, the township has already contacted agencies, including ambulance services, notifying them of the restrictions. The Waterloo Region District School Board, for instance, has already altered its bus routes, as the vehicles are too heavy for the new limit.

Though small, the change on the Middlebrook bridge north of West Montrose would allow a full-size pickup truck to use the crossing.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said the moves came after the most recent round of ‘coupon sampling,” which consists of laboratory analysis of steel samples taken from the structures.

Over time, the goal is to have load limits on these and other restricted bridges either removed entirely or at least raised high enough to allow normal traffic flows, he said.

In response to a question from Mayor Todd Cowan, Kennaley said the lower limits on the bridges preclude farm equipment from using them, which is problematic in an agricultural area.

Such improvements, however, will come at a cost. A report tabled last year shows Woolwich will need more than $6.8 million to repair or replace bridges and culverts over the next decade.

Required by the province to inspect bridge structures – bridges and culverts – every two years, the township had an engineering consultant determine the state of its inventory and the come up with a cost for tackling any deficiencies. Remediation work was ranked as high, medium or low priority.

Of the 48 structures inspected, nine were deemed to be of high priority, nine judged medium and 16 low. Fourteen was seen as requiring no action. Most of those with the highest priority should be repair or replaced within one to five years, with some falling in a 10-year timeline.

The nine most pressing projects include the Glasgow Street span that was dealt with last year. The list included a Floradale Road culvert (repairs, $150,000), another Floradale road structure (replacement, $630,000), a culvert on Reid Woods Drive (replacement, $430,000), a steel truss bridge on Middlebrook Road (repairs, $135,000), a similar span on Peel Street (repairs, $128,000) a culvert on Halm Road (replacement, $180,000) and a culvert on Bisch Street (replacement, $490,000).

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