Derek Baldwin
Publishing date:

Oct 15, 2021

Belleville municipal officials have good news for motorists who depend on the Bridge Street bridge for daily trips in and out of the downtown city core.
Closed to vehicles since mid-May, the $1.2 million rehabilitation of the historic Lower Bridge spanning the Moira River is nearing completion and is slated to reopen to traffic Nov. 1, said city officials Friday.

City council approved the hefty repair bill in December awarding National Structures Inc. of Napanee the tender to restore the deteriorating surfaces of the concrete bowstring arches and some floor beams.

The company will return next summer to remediate aging structural problems beneath the bridge but those repairs may only require partial lane closures up top.

The Lower Bridge was first opened in 1930 as a central river crossing and has received numerous retrofits by the city over the past nine decades to stay ahead of the punishing effects of Canadian weather.

Mayor Mitch Panciuk said effecting repairs on the structure was critical to preserving the longstanding landmark in the downtown.

“The challenge with that bridge is that it’s quite historic. If you had a car from that time, you would have to spend a lot of TLC on it and we are,” the mayor said. “Each work that we do, it’s different work and it’s making sure it’s extending its lifespan.”

Ray Ford, manager of engineering and deputy director of the city’s engineering and development services, said the city is fully expecting to open the bridge to motorists Nov. 1.

Ford said repairs were extensive on the concrete arches to replace crumbling portions with new concrete and carbon-fibre wrapping.

National Structures workers removed aging sections of the arches and cleaned them thoroughly in order for new material to properly bond for the long term.

“It is a rehabilitation with a specialty product to provide some additional strength. The process is going a little bit slower than the contractor anticipated, so they will be cleaning up the site by Nov. 1. The work won’t be done, they will have to come back next year and do some work on the underside of the bridge,” Ford said, “and do a couple of lane closures to finish it off.”

This summer, the contractor “had to remove the concrete that was delaminating, that was debonding, remove all that and replace it with a different type of concrete product. We’re using a fiberglass reinforcing product to help hold it together and preserve the bridge,” Ford said.

“After they chip out the concrete, they have to ensure the surface is clean and free of loose debris so the new concrete replacement material will bond to it. They will sandblast it to make sure there is no dust and debris left behind,” Ford said.