Narrow bridges

New pedestrian and bicycle bridges would connect the Lakehead University area

The city is requesting federal funds for two new bridges across the McIntyre River, repurposing the Edward Street Bridge girders.

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay City Council has approved a plan prioritizing two new pedestrian and cycling bridges that will better connect the Lakehead University and George Burke Park areas to the city’s active transportation network.

On Monday, the city council approved a plan to apply for federal funding to support the projects, which are expected to cost about $600,000 in total. If the city’s application to Canada’s Active Transportation Fund were successful, it would cover up to 60% of this amount.

One of the new bridges would span the McIntyre River near Lakehead’s Fieldhouse, connecting to a trail that passes behind the Deer Lake Ridge Residence and leads to Confederation College.

The second bridge would connect a trail that crosses George Burke Park across the river to John Street in the Bishop EQ Jennings School area.

“These new connections promote active and safe travel to school for students at Bishop EQ Jennings as well as Lakehead University and opportunities to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips, which reduces emissions and improves health.” community,” said Darrik Smith, the city’s mobility coordinator.

“More direct crossings help reduce journey times, improve the navigability of the [active transportation] network and the provision of safe passages that improve access to education and health facilities and result in better mobility options for all network users.

The bridges will also improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center and between the River Terrace subdivision and John Street, the city said.

The bridges will use reused beams salvaged from the Edward Street Bridge when it was replaced last year.

This will save the city significant money and reduce the carbon footprint of new structures, Smith said.

Reducing emissions is also expected to help the city’s bid, with bids being scored in part on their climate impact.

Construction is expected to begin in 2023 if the city is successful in securing funding. The city has budgeted $75,000 for the design work in 2022 and had tentatively budgeted $500,000 in next year’s budget.

The city council unanimously approved the submission of the funding request on Monday.

Com. Shelby Ch’ng, however, questioned the decision to prioritize the projects over the long-discussed Vickers-Carrick Bridge, which would provide a coveted north-south cycling link in the intercity area.

This bridge would have been an even better candidate for Active Transportation Fund support, she suggested. However, the project was delayed in a restricted council vote earlier this year, while Mayor Bill Mauro pursues further discussions with CN over whether the city can use an existing level crossing nearby.

With a funding application deadline at the end of March, this will take the bridge out of the race for Active Transportation Fund dollars.

Ch’ng asked Smith if the city would seek funding for Vickers-Carrick had it not reinitiated talks with CN.

“It’s possible that’s the case,” Smith said. “It is difficult to extrapolate these types of responses. The Vickers-Carrick crossing is an important crossing.