Margaret Avenue bridge to be torn down and replaced
KITCHENER – With the public’s safety top of mind, today Kitchener City Council approved staff’s recommendation that the Margaret Avenue bridge be removed as soon as possible, and that an environmental assessment (EA), predesign and design of a new bridge also be initiated immediately.
“It is essential to keep this project moving forward in a timely manner. Right now, this boils down to tearing down the bridge and starting the EA and bridge-design process,” said Counc. Berry Vrbanovic, who asked staff to prepare a project timeline, and opportunities to expedite the project, for the end of October during the community and infrastructure services committee meeting earlier today.
The bridge was closed in June, following a structural engineers’ report recommending it be closed immediately. A peer review of the initial recommendation also supported the findings. A consultant evaluated short- and long-term alternatives and costs for the bridge; the report was made available to staff in late August.
Staff recommends the funds from existing federal gas tax sources be reallocated for the removal of the existing bridge, which will cost about $250,000, and for the EA and predesign to replace it, which would cost about $150,000. Funding sources for a new bridge will be considered during the 2014 budget process.
In an effort to speed up the process, the city’s chief administrative officer, Jeff Willmer, was given the authority to approve the tender for removing the bridge, and also report to council on the decision at the next regularly scheduled council meeting.
“Even though this is unfortunate, with the bridge the way it is now, we could also look at this as an opportunity,” said Counc. Bil Ioannidis, chair of the committee. “With the new Weber Street overpass, and the light rail transit plan, we can create a whole new transit corridor.”
Kitchener Utilities is working on alternatives and costs to replace or support a 100mm diameter natural gas main that crosses the bridge and will fund this work out of capital reserve accounts. The main is the primary feed to the Bridgeport area and needs to be in place to avoid natural gas outages in Bridgeport over the winter.