News

No timeline for new Port Bruce bridge

By Louis Pin, St. Thomas Times-Journal

Onlookers gather at the collapsed Imperial Road bridge in Port Bruce on Sunday. The structure gave out while a fully-loaded dump truck was driving across it Friday. (DALE CARRUTHERS / THE LONDON FREE PRESS)

Onlookers gather at the collapsed Imperial Road bridge in Port Bruce on Sunday. The structure gave out while a fully-loaded dump truck was driving across it Friday. (DALE CARRUTHERS / THE LONDON FREE PRESS)

There isn’t a timeline to replace a bridge in Elgin County that collapsed last week, county officials say.

But it will be the county’s responsibility to repair or replace it.

Most county councillors were on hand for an emergency meeting Wednesday following the collapse of the bridge on Imperial Road in Port Bruce, a lakeshore town east of Port Stanley.

The bridge over Catfish Creek broke into two sections Feb. 23 as a dump truck was crossing. The truck was carrying gravel to repair a section of road that had washed out because of the run-off from heavy rain and melting snow.

The truck driver was rescued by firefighters while the dump truck remains on a part of the bridge sticking out of the creek.

County councillors were told the county is expected to foot additional costs until the bridge is repaired or replaced.

A timeline for when that will happen is still unknown.

“It is unreasonable to except a really quick turnaround but we’re doing our best,” said Julie Gonyou, the county’s chief administrative officer. Public services such as garbage collection for the approximately 200 residents will incur additional costs, she said.

A short-term bridge possibly in a different location remains an option, one that Township of Malahide Mayor Dave Mennill supported at the meeting.

“That would buy us about two years,” he said.

There is some concern emergency personnel will not be able to access residents on the other side of the bridge that served as the main route into Port Bruce.

Central Elgin, west of Malahide, is lending its emergency personnel to help Port Bruce. Whether that solution will serve long-term is yet to be determined but is unlikely, Minnell said. “It’s too early to tell if alternate plans need to be put in place,” Gonyou said.

The Port Bruce bridge has been a county asset since 1997. The county repaired the bridge in 1999 and it was last inspected in 2016.

The cause of the collapse is still unknown. The water level in the Catfish Creek was high following flooding earlier in the week that included massive ice chunks.

Barriers have been erected on the road leading to the bridge, and the public is advised to stay away.

“The site stability and safety remains an issue,” Gonyou said. “We worry quite a bit about the site safety.”

A report from Dillon Consulting on the state of the bridge will be presented to county council at a future meeting.

The business owner is responsible for removing the truck stuck on the bridge, Gonyou said.

St. Thomas Times-Journal