Eganville – Despite a barrage of letters, appeals at Renfrew County council and some unhappy Bonnechere Valley (BV) councillors, the County of Renfrew is not changing plans for the downsizing of Hurd’s Creek bridge/culvert and this is not sitting well with BV council.
It is clear from comments at a committee meeting of council last week the issue is far from over as far as the township is concerned, despite the county devoting a large chunk of time discussing the issue at Renfrew County council last month and proceeding with the existing plans.
“This is absolutely not the way this should have been done,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said last Tuesday during a ZOOM meeting of council.
Councilor Jack Roesner is predicting a bad situation in winter and the possibility the bridge would be unpassable forcing the closure of the road. He questioned how easy the county would be to reach then, pointing out when there are culvert issues they come when it is convenient to their schedule.
“The bridge is going ahead. There will be issues when they plow it,” he said.
The accumulation of snow at the sides will make things unsafe because it is too narrow to bring down the (plow truck) wing, he said.
“It is going to come to the point where our road super makes the call about road safety or not,” he said.
This is an issue for the people who live in the area and winter travel, he added.
“There are three buses that go right by my house,” he said.
The township will have to come up with a plan on what to do if the county does not come fix the problem in winter, he added.
Councillor Tim Schison said it is unfortunate the bridge has been built but the issues have not been dealt with to his satisfaction.
“I’m not going to give up on it in any shape or form,” he said.
A lot of residents have contacted him and are upset about the issue, he shared.
“Will anything change from now to the fall?” he asked. “I don’t see them changing.”
Mayor Murphy said it is not for lack of trying.
“We had our concerns before that bridge was removed,” she said. “I can’t think of a road, except maybe the Balaclava Bridge I have been more involved in.”
She said she spoke on the issue at county council in late June and was at least pleased to see the acknowledgement there had been a lack of communication. She said prior to this at least the road supervisor in the municipality would have been given the heads up about the work prior to it occurring.
Mayor Murphy pointed out Hurd’s Creek bridge is a different structure now and was not what had been planned originally.
“The construction of this bridge changed from what our asset management plan of the county said last year to this year,” she said.
The mayor was also very disappointed in the defence of the decisions being made at the county level and some of her fellow county councillors defending it as well.
Hurd’s Creek was not the only issue she was concerned with. She was also quite dismayed to hear that despite the county’s assurances the work on Fourth Chute bridge was being done in the most cost-effective way when pressured by several county councillors it was revealed the county had not even examined the cost of other options.
“Staggering had not even been priced out,” she said.
The county had also stated safety was an issue at Fourth Chute because the bridge was too narrow for staggering. However, there was also a mention of it being cost prohibitive.
“We have a communication problem now,” Mayor Murphy added.
The issue at Hurd’s Creek still bothers her, especially when the municipality found other alternatives. She said she is still getting calls from ratepayers who must go on a wide detour to access the hazardous waste depot. Some are doing a 25-kilometre detour now.
Coun Schison said council has worked hard to make their concerns known at the county.
“It is almost like we are talking to deaf ears,” he said. “If it was a township issue, we would have solved this.”
CAO Annette Gilchrist said the township will continue to raise health and safety concerns with the county especially in terms of winter management. All other appeals have not been heard, including concerns about the bridge being downgraded to a single lane.
“It is wait and see now,” she said.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader