The bridge replacement project on Niska Road is taking shape and within its $6-million budget, said Ken VanderWal, project engineer for the City of Guelph.
Over the next month, workers will be pouring the concrete deck that will make up the driving surface of the bridge.
“Most of the superstructure is in place. They should be putting in the rest of the cross-beams and getting ready for the deck to pour,” said VanderWal.
The former one-lane Bailey Bridge that spanned that portion of the Speed River was dismantled in March of 2018.
Ward 6 councillor Mark MacKinnon said many residents are looking forward to the road being reopened, likely near the end of summer. MacKinnon said there is a nine-kilometre detour for residents having to go around the bridge while the road has been closed.
“People are spending more time in their cars, with more emissions, so this is going to be a good environmental thing to have open,” said MacKinnon. “I know that many residents are looking forward to it being opened, so they can get efficient access between the west end and the south end of the city. It’s going to be really great cutting peoples’ rides down.”
The bridge faced some delay because of an appeal of the City’s planning process led by resident Hugh Whiteley. In January, a judge ruled the City had not contravened the Planning Act.
“That was the citizens having their say, but in the end the tribunal ruled in the city’s favour that yes we did follow all procedures and we can move forward with the bridge,” said McKinnon.
GuelphToday reached out for comment from Whitely by email Monday, which was not immediately returned.
There is some concern from residents living in the area about transport trucks using the route more now that the new bridge will have two lanes. MacKinnon notes that city staff has designated the route to not allow trucks.
“That will be patrolled and enforced to ensure that heavy vehicles are not using that route, it is intended for small, light vehicles only,” said MacKinnon.
The councillor doesn’t expect to see a big increase in the number of people who will use the bridge when it reopens versus at the time that it closed. He figures drivers will save all of 30 seconds in crossing now that the bridge is two lanes.
“I don’t expect there to be a lot of traffic increase, other than that it is zero right now,” said MacKinnon. “If it wasn’t faster for someone previously to take Niska Road, then it’s not going to be faster for them to take it now.”
Traffic calming measures designed into that stretch of Niska Road will keep speeds down, said McKinnon and parking spaces and a multi-use path will allow more people to enjoy the nature in the area.
“It’s just a really strong improvement that will be a great benefit,” he said.