Some $700,000 from Ottawa is the final piece of the puzzle needed to rehabilitate the Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo. Combined with provincial and township money, the funding announced Monday will help keep the old steel structure open to traffic.
Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger was joined by Ward 3 Coun. Murray Martin at Conestogo Community Park for this week’s announcement, part of $7.7 million the federal government has just approved for nine road and bridge projects across Ontario. Woolwich’s share will be $704,375.
“It’s a great announcement,” said Martin following the event. “There are a lot of people that use the bridge – it was made very clear to us at the previous public meeting , ‘do whatever you have to do to keep the bridge open.’ So an announcement like this is welcome news. Hopefully, we can rehabilitate it to get another 10-plus years out of it.”
The 80-metre bridge is among the most well-used in the township, connecting residents between Conestogo and Waterloo. The structure sees traffic volumes of approximately 1,500 cars a day.
Martin noted the bridge is particularly helpful for the Mennonite community and those on the east side of Conestogo that use the bridge daily for their commute.
The provincial government will provide $470,000, while the municipality will cover the remaining $260,000. The money will be used to increase the current five-tonne load limit and extend its useful life.
Built in 1886, the pratt truss structure is unique to the region. Originally serving as a crossing elsewhere on the river, it was moved to its current location over the Conestogo River in 1928.
The structure has been closed and repaired on numerous occasions in the past decade or so, prompting the longer-term – and more expensive – rehabilitation now being funding. The project calls for new structural pins, replacing bearings, and other fundamental aspects of the structure such as stringers and beams. The bridge would be closed for approximately three to four months while work was carried out.
“Subject to council approval, the project would undergo design in 2020 with rehabilitation work occurring in 2021,” said Woolwich director of infrastructure Jared Puppe, in an email.
“The plan has supported repairs and upgrades to more than 2,500 kilometres of roads and highways from across the country, helped build over 190 kilometres of new highway, and funded more than 70 new bridges. This is helping Canadians spending less time on the road and more time with loved ones,” said Chagger. “We’re paving the way for a brighter future for everyone.”
Martin welcomed the announcement on behalf of Mayor Sandy Shantz, who was at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa at the time.
“The Glasgow Street bridge is of great importance to both the community of Conestogo and the Township of Woolwich as a whole, marrying modern convenience with historical significance,” said Shantz in a release. “We’re delighted to partner with the federal and provincial governments to ensure the bridge receives the essential restoration it needs, allowing it to continue on as a key access point and landmark that our residents can enjoy for years to come.”
Other bridge projects that benefit from the funding include those in Grand Valley, South Bruce, Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh and Meaford, while the communities of Tillsonburg, Orangeville, West Perth and Georgian Bluff will see funding for road work.