A Wellesley bridge back in service, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week to mark the occasion and the township’s partnership with the province and other agencies to get the work done.
Provincial Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton was joined by area Conservative MPPs and Wellesley council members for the November 8 ceremony at Bridge 26, located on Nafziger Road, north of Henry Street.
“It’s amazing to see when communities come together to do projects like this,” said McNaughton. “It really takes everyone, from the staff to contractors, to council, to the people living here to get projects like this done.”
Originally estimated to cost $1.2 million, the project eventually came in under budget at $900,000, with the Ministry of Infrastructure providing $400,000. The new bridge completely replaces the original structure built around 1932. The new span is expected to last a minimum of 75 years.
“This is money well spent,” said McNaughton. “This is an important step in opening Ontario for business; important infrastructure that connects communities and allows products to get to market.”
The bridge was the sole access for 18 homes, Wellesley Brand Apple Products, a farm operation and an active cemetery. A walking bridge and a temporary bypass bridge were both installed during construction to accommodate those affected by the bridge closure.
Joining McNaughton at the event were Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak, Cambridge and North Dumfries MPP Belinda Karaholios, Kitchener South Hespeler MPP Amy Fee, representatives from Theo VanDenberk Construction Inc. and GM Blueplan Consulting Engineering, various council members, and township residents.
“It was a collaborative effort involving many individuals and organizations,” said Nowak. “Bridge 26 was initially a narrow two-lane concrete structure. Now the bridge is wide enough to accommodate two-way vehicular traffic and pedestrian travel.”
The project had its origins in a 2014 bridge inspection that identified that the Nafziger Bridge needed to be replaced within one to five years. Another inspection in 2016 confirmed that there were significant structural problems with the bridge, including abutments that were on the verge of failure. There were also no sidewalks, and it did not adequately allow for two-way traffic.
In studying the bridge, officials determined that the best course of action would be the complete removal of the existing span and abutments with the replacement of a new rigid-framed concrete structure.
Township staff worked with other agencies, including the Grand River Conservation Authority and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to move forward with the construction.
Staff also reviewed a cultural heritage evaluation report of the bridge and found no significant parts of the bridge needed to be replicated. After a public consultation meeting, the final design for the project was decided.
Construction got underway in mid-July, at which point the Wellesley pond was drained to allow the work to be done. Despite a three-week weather delay, the bridge was finished in October.
“Staff continued to work diligently with community organizations like the Apple Butter and Cheese Festival so that the impact of the project did not significantly disrupt the scheduled events,” said Nowak.
“August was obviously pretty rainy so that delayed it by a little bit, but this project is on time and under budget,” said McNaughton. “That’s good news for the community here and for taxpayers across Ontario.”