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Province signals funding support to rehab Glasgow St. bridge in Conestogo

Woolwich Township has nominated its first major infrastructure project under the recent joint municipal-provincial-federal funding: the Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo.

Back in March, Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton announced a 10-year, $30-billion bilateral funding model, with the first stream of funds going towards road and bridge projects in rural and northern communities. McNaughton encouraged rural municipalities across the province to nominate projects to qualify for funding.

The Glasgow bridge fits the bill. Ryan Tucker, an engineering project supervisor at the township, noted it’s one of the most well-used bridges in Woolwich.

“This is one of the bridges we’re trying to keep. It’s well-used, it’s kind of a gateway into the Conestogo community, and I think Woolwich is known for this specific bridge,” said Tucker, adding that it’s often a shortcut bridge for drivers looking to avoid taking Northfield Drive into Waterloo.

In a review of three old steel truss bridges, the township opted to keep open only the Glasgow Street structure, in part due to the volume of traffic. Rehabilitation costs were deemed too high for steel bridges on Peel Street in Winterbourne and the Middlebrook Road boundary with Centre Wellington Township, prompting a recommendation to close both permanently.

“Definitely there’s more traffic on this bridge compared to the other two bridges. I would say this is probably double or triple the amount on the other bridges.”

Rehabilitating this bridge is expected to cost $1,225,000. The bill would be split between the municipal, federal and provincial governments.

The work planned for the bridge involves new structural pins, replacing bearings, and new structural aspects such as stringers and beams. The bridge would be closed for approximately three to four months while the work was carried out. While the province has signed on, the project is still waiting approval from Ottawa and the township.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz met Friday at the structure to discuss the funding.

“This is terrific news for Woolwich Township and the entire region,” said Harris in a release. “Quickly after the election, I sat down with Mayor Shantz to receive Woolwich’s top infrastructure priorities and the Glasgow bridge was front and centre; therefore I am glad working together we got this vital link between Woolwich and Waterloo nominated.”

“I was excited and relieved to hear the news that the Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo was nominated to receive much-needed funding to rehabilitate this crucial conduit,” added Shantz. “When we heard that the Ontario government was prioritizing rural and Northern infrastructure, our staff moved quickly to submit a proposal that will keep this bridge functional for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.”

Built in 1886, the pratt truss structure is unique in the region. It was moved to its current location in 1928 over the Conestogo River and has stayed there ever since. But the structure has been closed and repaired on numerous occasions in the past decade or so, prompting the current environmental assessment process underway to help determine its fate.

It has a five-tonne weight limit, which would remain the same during and after the construction. It is one of three steel truss bridges in the township undergoing an environmental assessment. Tucker added that this assessment also encompasses the Country Squire Road intersection near the bridge.

“Part of the environmental assessment is also looking at the intersection at Glasgow and Millenium Boulevard,” said Tucker. “The staff right now are working on that as part of the environmental assessment. No decision’s been made on that as of yet.

“That’ll be brought forth as part of the recommendation – the bridge and the intersection will be one report altogether. Hopefully, in the summer we’ll be able to take that to council.”

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