Work moving forward on ‘Burg walking bridge

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Wallaceburg’s L.O. Stonehouse Memorial Walking Bridge remains closed to the public. But that could change.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After nearly two years of being out of commission, the wheels are turning to get Wallaceburg’s L.O. Stonehouse Memorial Walking Bridge back in operation.

Spanning the Sydenham River in the town’s core, the bridge provides a handy link for residents crossing the river, particularly for those in the southside needing to access services.

A report from Chatham-Kent engineering manager Brendan Falkner, was expected to come before Chatham-Kent council June 26, recommending the municipality approve a $2.3-million contract with Hamilton-based Dayson Industrial Services.

In an interview with The Voice, Falkner said he understands it’s been a lengthy inconvenience for residents, but several assessments and studies of the bridge had to be undertaken, including a municipal-class environmental assessment.

“It took what seemed to be a long time because of the assessments which require public engagement,” Faulkner said, noting a separate cultural heritage assessment also had to be conducted due to the historical significance of the structure.

The evaluation found the bridge’s main lift span needs to be replaced, along with remediating corrosion of the metal and the deteriorating wood decking.

Rehabilitation work was carried out in 2003, and again in 2014. In 2019, a report by the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual identified isolated spots of structural components that had deteriorated and it was recommended that a detailed investigation be completed.

This was carried out by Dillon Consulting beginning in 2020, and the company recommended the bridge’s closure.

The new rehabilitation, to be completed by May 2024, will see removal and replacement of the main span and lift span with a truss similar to the existing structure and the width of the lift span will be increased to match the width of the other spans.

The north and south spans will be rehabilitated and recoated. There will also be mechanical and electrical upgrades to the winch tower and controls, as well as the installation of new concrete light standards and LED accent lighting. There will be modifications to some of the concrete piers.

The bridge was originally opened in 1910 and was a busy crossing for vehicular traffic. In 1983, it was reconfigured as a walking bridge named in honour of former Wallaceburg mayor Como Llewellyn Owen “Lou” Stonehouse. A loyal servant of the town, Stonehouse passed away in 1981.

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