Rehabilitation to shut down Port Stanley lift bridge for over a year
The King George Lift Bridge in Port Stanley, Ont. is about to be taken out of commission for more than a year.
The essential structure which connects the east and west sides of the fishing village will undergo a 14-month long rehabilitation next spring.
"The bridge is a structure that was built in 1938, and most of the components are original and due for replacement," says Elgin County Director of Engineering Brian Lima.
Following a detailed forensic structural, mechanical and electrical inspection of the bridge, it was determined that a $5.25 million reconstruction was needed.
The bridge will be closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic from March of 2020 to May of 2021.
"We'll have to pick a different way to go around the village.. it'll be frustrating," says Wendy Cowie, who walks over the bridge often with a group of women from town.
The news of the closure is a blow to businesses on both sides, however many of them are still in the dark about the details.
"There has been no real communication to any of the businesses in Port yet," says Dan Vernackt of the Port Stanley Terminal Rail.
He says if the bridge is closed during peak season, everyone is going to suffer.
"The businesses thrive on June, July and August here and people are going to say, 'The bridge is closed so we're not coming down.' They are definitely not to take the long way around."
Boats will still have access, with one side leaf lifted during construction.
But the thousands of vehicles will have to use the alternate route to the west side via Warren Street and Carlow Road. Those on the east may suffer with limited parking and reliance on foot traffic.
"A lot of people walk over the bridge and come in fror breakfast," says Melissa Holditch of That Breakfast Place. "Even as a resident and just being able to walk to work, I'm not going to be able to do that. I'll have to drive around because I live on the other side of the bridge."
Elgin County Economic Development and Tourism say they'll be working closely with the Port Stanley BIA to mitigate any disruption.
"We will plan to heighten our marketing efforts for the area," says Elgin County Economic Development GM Alan Smith. "We recognize it will be disruption but we're in the process of developing plans to reduce the impact of the closure."
A public information session will be held in November where the county will reveal the scope of work and design details for the rehabilitation.