A provincial funding deadline has added even more urgency to Owen Sound's plan to replace the 107-year-old 10th Street bridge as soon as possible.
City officials say Owen Sound must spend at least $3.3 million on the project by March 31, 2021, in order to receive the full $3 million in Connecting Links funding approved by Queen's Park for the work.
“We've got to keep this thing moving. As a matter of fact, once we got word of the grant funding, we've kind of accelerated everything,” Chris Webb, the city's manager of engineering services, said Wednesday in an interview.
“We've got a picture of the funding now – we know where we stand, we know what we're getting from the province, we know what has to be generated locally.
“Now it's a matter of accelerating the project to get the environmental assessment completed as quickly as possible and then commence with the design and get it ready for tendering and construction next year.”
Webb said the city is hoping to start construction for the roughly $7.5-million project, which will also involve water main and sewer upgrades and work in the adjacent intersections, by late 2019.
The majority of the work would take place in 2020, with completion planned for early 2021, he said.
The five-lane, concrete, barrel-arch 10th Street bridge, built in 1911, is the most-used bridge in Owen Sound, with an average of 30,000 vehicles crossing it daily. It is a designated provincial connecting link for Ontario highways 6, 10, 21 and 26.
City officials say the bridge is deteriorating at an advancing rate and must be replaced within the next several years.
Owen Sound learned in March that its application for Ministry of Transportation Connecting Links funding was successful. The program provides grants to cover up to 90 per cent of total eligible project costs, up to $3 million. About $3.33 million must be spent by the funding deadline to receive the full 90 per cent grant.
A mandatory environmental assessment for the bridge work has been underway since 2016.
As part of the process, council voted in February 2017 to proceed with the identified “preferred solution” to fully replace the bridge.
The next step in the EA process is planned for July 10 when consultants GM BluePlan Engineering will present options for the replacement at a Public Information Centre.
The event is set to run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, with a formal presentation scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Webb said several options will be presented.
The latest environmental study report says the preferred solution is to build a new pre-cast concrete girder bridge with the same traffic lane configuration and movements as the current bridge. A wider north lane would be provided to better accommodate the westbound right turn lane.
To deal with traffic during construction, the report recommends diverting vehicles to the bypass south of Owen Sound and to use existing crossing locations within the city. It does not recommend building a temporary bridge crossing, which was one of the options considered.
After the Public Information Centre, GM BluePlan will consider committee, public and stakeholder feedback as it develops a preferred design for council's consideration.
Council's approval would wrap up the environmental assessment process, which would then be subject to a 30-day public review period.
The next phase would involve completing contract drawings for the new bridge and proceeding to construction.
City manager Wayne Ritchie said the city's share of the project's cost will be covered by property tax revenue and a debenture.
The city will also be looking for other sources of revenue, like additional grants, he said.