Top News

Town of Clarenville selects an option to replace causeway bridge

A drawing of the option council decided to proceed with for the bridge replacement.
A drawing of the option council decided to proceed with for the bridge replacement. - Contributed

Concrete girder structure expected to cost $3.1 million

CLARENVILLE-SHOAL HARBOUR, N.L. —

After receiving a preliminary report and recommendation for the Shoal Harbour Causeway bridge replacement, the Town of Clarenville has officially selected the most suitable structure.
At the regular council meeting on Sept. 24, council reviewed the five replacement options provided in the preliminary engineering report. It contained estimated prices and individual pros and cons.
After weighing their options, council decided the concrete girder bridge option would be most suitable, agreeing with the engineering recommendation.
The following were the choices. All figures do not include HST or additional engineering costs:
• A concrete girder bridge (similar to the existing structure) - $3.1 million;
• A steel plate girder bridge - $3.267 million;
• A voided slab bridge – $4.169 million;
• A steel arch culvert (a single culvert could not meet the required span) - $3.65 million;
• And a steel panel or bailey bridge - $2.509 million.
 “The geotechnical study indicated that bedrock is approximately 50 feet below the road’s surface,” said chief administrative officer David Harris at the council meeting.
“They have determined that any new bridge structure that will replace the existing will have to sit on a pile structure.”
The study stated the pros for the concrete replacement was the ease of construction — it’s the most commonly used bridge type; service life and how girder can be cast onsite to reduce transport cost.
Disadvantages were on-site space to cast the beams, and the quality control of said girders.
The selection was made in an effort to meet the Investing in Canada Infrastructure funding program application deadline, a move also approved at the meeting. The town’s share of the cost will be borne through an anticipated loan.
The approval however, and the total cost shared one-third each by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, was not a savoury decision for the town.
While the application motion passed, councillors referenced how they hope to reach a more palatable cost-share breakdown.
Coun. John Pickett said he thinks the town will be successful on a couple of fronts if they negotiate with government.
“This really is part of the Cabot Highway and really it’s a regional road,” said Pickett. “It’s a vital link to the Bonavista Peninsula, to Random Island, and to various communities across the road. We think based on that alone we should be able to get a better cost ratio.”
He pointed out the bridge responsibility was downloaded to the town in the early 1990s with no resources to help with its upkeep. Pickett suggested the final government inspection indicated it soon needed replacement.
“We got a bridge back in the ‘90s that was pretty well almost used out…Normally as we think government would do in the past, when they turn over facilities, bridges or roads to municipalities, they always seem to give towns money to go with it to help them upgrade or repair it.
“I think, in this case, we as a municipality didn’t get a great deal and we’ll make it known to the province when we have discussions about trying to get a better deal for this causeway.”
Harris even told The Packet part of the reason for the extensive engineering work to determine the best replacement option was due to the fact the town possesses no historical data on the bridge. He says they have no documentation on initial work done to put in the bridge.
Coun. Bill Bailey voted against the motion.
“I was never in agreement with replacing the bridge anyway at our own expense,” said Bailey. “It’s a government bridge. It was never turned over to the town officially in any capacity whatsoever.”
Mayor Frazer Russell added the expense is “unreasonable” for Clarenville taxpayers, but will support the motion on the condition council will fight the ratio of funds supplied by the town.
“If we were successful in getting that change, I would be in favour of it,” said Russell. “There is a minimum level of it I would accept that we would put onto the taxpayers of Clarenville, because I feel that there are other priorities and needs that must be met and must be weighed against spending an inordinate amount of money on that causeway bridge.”
Going forward, Deputy Mayor Heber Smith urged Clarenville residents to lobby candidates in the federal election for support to help build the bridge.
The town also approved a motion for a request for proposals for detailed bridge engineering work to meet the type of bridge it has chosen. The call is for a full, detailed design needed to continue with the work.
The plan is to expedite the process as much as possible, in hopes construction can be started in 2020.
Harris said the town has enough money left in multi-year capital works funding to cover the detailed engineering, but not enough for contract administration and site inspection.
If the application for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program is approved, Harris expects find out early in the new year.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca
Twitter: @jejparsons

Recent Stories