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Town of Clarenville looks to ‘get moving’ on plans for causeway bridge

The lights at the Shoal Harbour Causeway bridge.
The lights at the Shoal Harbour Causeway bridge. - Jonathan Parsons

Municipality aiming for work to start during 2019 building season

CLARENVILLE, N.L. — It’s been months since problems were discovered with the integrity of the Shoal Harbour Causeway bridge — and while one lane of traffic is open on the structure — the town is still making plans for the bridge’s replacement.

The Town of Clarenville is in the process of securing funding from government for a preliminary engineering study for the bridge work. Chief administrative officer David Harris says they’re hoping to have work start during next year’s construction season.

“We have to get this engineering moving by this fall with any hope of having anything start for the next building season,” Harris told The Packet.

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, July 3, Harris said himself and director of external operations Rick Wells had a phone call meeting with Terra Nova MHA and parliamentary secretary for the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment Colin Holloway on the next steps needed for the bridge.

He says they discussed how they can move forward with a request for proposals on the engineering recommendation. Now, the town will get a “ballpark fee” from their consultants.

Harris added the province’s environment staff consulted with the town on the limitations which could be presented due to the area being a scheduled salmon river.

“They are open to the idea as long as the opening of the causeway doesn’t change from the existing width,” he said.

He says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have also said they are willing to accept an application for a box culvert bridge system. Harris noted that, in order to span the width of the existing gap, two box culverts would have to be used.

However, all of this will have to be subject to a hydrology study to determine if the replacement bridge would affect the water’s flow.

And there’s no guarantee from government for 50-50 cost-shared ratio funding for this year.

“If we don’t receive cost-shared funding in this fiscal year from government, in all reality we’re probably going to miss the construction season next year … so it’s very crucial to get funding from government to move this project forward,” said Harris at the meeting.

He says they discussed a different formula with government than the 50-50 cost-share, but government doesn’t seem to be budging on that stance.

Council discussed the matter, and hope they can keep the timeline over the next several months.

“It makes you appreciate how long it takes to get something done,” said Coun. Paul Tilley.

In addition, at last Tuesday’s council meeting, council decided to purchase the portable traffic lights for use at the bridge, after receiving several quotes from suppliers.

The prices are as follows (all quotes exclude HST):

• Battlefield Equipment Rentals - $39,993 (includes their own trailer);

• United Rentals - $13,336.46 (lights are battery operated only);

• Construction Signs Ltd. - $12,464.50 (with an extra $1,650 for solar power).

The finance committee recommended the Construction Signs offer, as they believe the solar option is the best route. It was noted by finance chairman Coun. Tilley that the lights will be in place for some time until the bridge is replaced and they will be able to be used by the town in the future if needed.

This decision was approved unanimously by council.

Twitter: @jejparsons

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