BV wants a bridge during Lake Clear culvert work despite cost of $81,000 to county

Eganville – Bonnechere Valley council wants to see a bridge in place during the Lake Clear Road culvert replacement even though it increases the cost for the County of Renfrew by over $81,000.

“I have a problem when you are talking emergency services,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said during a committee meeting of council last Tuesday. “We are thinking paramedics, fire and police.”

The county is responsible for the culvert replacement but reached out to BV to find out if there was a preference on what would be done during construction time. The culvert – the Lake Clear Tri Culvert – is on Lake Clear Road about 1.7 kilometres south of Foymount Road, County Road 512.

The work is being done by the county and the costs come out of county coffers. In council’s information package it was noted the cost to have the bridge in place would increase the project cost by approximately $81,500. The county had anticipated the cost to replace the culvert to be about $235,000 but if a closure was required, this would increase the total cost to over $316,000. If the closure was in place, some residents would have to take Opeongo Road as a detour.

The mayor said she was concerned about safety issues and pointed out if the bridge is not put in temporarily then it would be a 13-kilometre detour and this could prove fatal.

“It is costly but is it worth it if someone in that area has an emergency of any kind?” she asked.

The original plan was to do the work without needing to close the road, a letter from Taylor Hanrath, manager of infrastructure for the County of Renfrew, stated.

“However, it would be very costly and time consuming in order to maintain a lane of traffic,” he noted.

He said if the road was closed entirely for the replacement, the closure would be less than a week and the overall construction would be two weeks. As well a pedestrian pathway would be permitted over the structure, allowing people to park on one side and walk across.

“If closure is not permitted, it would require the installation of a Lessard Bridge during construction, which would come at a higher cost and extend construction to at least three weeks, more likely four or five,” he wrote.

The letter was sent to both CAO Annette Gilchrist and Works Supervisor Jason Zohr, who came to council for direction. She had reached out to the county asking for a cost breakdown and was told having the Lessard Bridge in place would come at a cost of about $81,500. This includes additional time with the excavator, day labour construction crew, crane for the placement of the bridge and additional granular for the temporary bridge abutment bedding and ramping. The county has a bridge and blocks in inventory. The CAO said she was not comfortable making a recommendation to the county without direction from council.

“$80,000 is a big ask,” she pointed out. “Do we want the county to spend $80,000 to put up a temporary bridge?”

Mr. Zohr said his concern was if the road was closed, the proposed one-week closure could be longer than anticipated.

“There are always delays,” he said. “Could there be more of a delay? That would be my only concern.

“I know the price will go up significantly if they have to put a bridge in,” he added.

Mayor Murphy said she felt the township should ask for the bridge, even if it would cost county taxpayers over $81,000.

“My personal feeling is spend the money because what is a life worth?” she asked. “I too am worried about delays. That detour could be life or death.”

Councillor Brent Patrick pointed out the closure would only be for a week.

Mayor Murphy said if someone phones 911 dispatch sends responders a certain way and there could be problems reaching people.

Mr. Zohr added the water level is still high so the county might encounter unexpected issues.

“It doesn’t take much to run you into a big delay,” he said.

Councillor Merv Buckwald said he thought they should ask for the bridge to be put in.

“You never know what you are going to run into,” he said.

Council agreed to ask for the bridge to be installed, avoiding the use of a detour.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader