By James Matthews (Local Journalism Initiative reporter)
Each of Algonquin Highlands’ five bridges is structurally sound.
Adam Thorn, director of public works for the township, presented the results of the inspection to council at its regular meeting on October 13. He said the joint project with Haliburton County was the second of three inspections.
“Everything went very well on the bridges,” he said. “The general condition is good. No major repairs required.
All minor repairs will be included in the 2023 maintenance budget.
In order to obtain better pricing due to consultant setup costs, an RFP indicated that the successful Proponent would be retained for two cycles with the option of a third cycle subject to satisfactory performance (2020, 2022 and 2024).
Keystone Bridge Management Corporation conducted inspections, provided comments, service lives and estimated replacement values on five bridges.
The 28-year-old Bear Lake Road Bridge was found to be in good working order. There was some rot present in the southwest corner abutment cribbing which will require partial replacement of the framework in a few years.
Its replacement value is set at $3,380,000.
Consultants said the 77-year-old Buckslide Dam Bridge should be considered two structures. The new bridge spans the old structure and is in good condition. The original structure carries water from the overflow of the dam and appears to be an old T-beam structure possibly extended to the north with a concrete culvert.
Due to the high-velocity flow through the original structure, the 2020 inspection of the original structure was conducted remotely. The condition of the north end of the culvert structure appeared to be good and engineers were unable to access the south end. Its replacement value is $1,218,000.
“When it comes time for further inspection, repairs or even rebuilding, we would definitely need to have other agencies involved in that,” Thorn said.
The 60-year-old St. Peters Bridge has been assessed and is in good condition. The main concern is the missing drainage tubes at the corners of the deck.
“Current damage is minimal, extensions need to be replaced to prevent further damage to beam ends and bearing seats,” engineers noted in the report to the board. Its replacement value is $3,075,000.
The 33-year-old Dawson Road culvert was found to be in good condition. Its new value is $590,000.
The 49-year-old airport road bridge is generally in very good condition. There is no rehabilitation warrant at this time. It is planned to replace the seals as part of a maintenance activity. Its replacement value is $3,181,000.
Ward 3 Councilor Jennifer Dailloux asked if replacement costs were set in stone.
“When the end of a bridge’s life cycle comes, there may be a redesign,” she said. “[There may be] think about how a bridge could be designed differently to reduce the overall cost.
Thorn said the replacement costs reflect the price to duplicate the existing structure.
“These costs which are replacement values listed in the report are based on the bridge having to fail today and be replaced tomorrow,” Thorn said. “It would be like removing a bridge and replacing it with the exact same style and material as what currently exists.”
Public Works stores sand for the winter
Township officials received two bids for winter sand screening and storage.
A request for proposals was launched on September 8 and closed on September 28. Offers were received from Hawk River Construction at $69,000 plus applicable taxes and from Francis Thomas Contracting at $45,919 plus applicable taxes.
Public Works originally set aside $45,000 for the equipment.
Although Frances Thomas Contracting’s bid was over budget by $919 plus applicable taxes, the council awarded them the contract. The surplus will be funded from the regular operational budget.
“Both were over budget, but one was slightly over budget,” Thorn said.
During the budget process this time last year, a number of projects were under budget, he said.
“I think it has a lot to do with fuel costs,” Thorn said. “Because of the rising costs and the unknown, I think a lot of places were scared of that and trying to hedge.”
Many other companies have become familiar with their fuel surcharges.
He said he expects continued project increases over the next two years. And it will be because of fuel prices.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said council is going through a tough time with every municipal budget process and prices are going up for everything.
“The residual effects of the pandemic and supply chain challenges will make the upcoming budget process quite difficult,” she said. “There is more pent-up demand for capital than there is money to fund them.”
The excess for winter sand could be offset by the extra room after purchasing two brine tanks under budget.
In the 2022 operating budget, staff have budgeted $50,000 for the purchase of two brine tanks to be purchased for liquid calcium storage for road dusting operations.
Staff received an offer in a September 8 tender: Road Maintenance Equipment and Service Inc. offered the tanks for $36,900 plus applicable taxes.