West Montrose – The West Montrose Covered Bridge has been selected for a major structural upgrade and the Waterloo District wants input from the public on proposed improvements to the only remaining covered bridge in Ontario.
“This is one of the iconic buildings in the area,” said Michelle Pinto, project manager.
Pinto said reinforcing the 140-year-old wooden bridge is necessary to preserve the landmark, and to ensure “visitors can continue to enjoy it for years to come.”
As the bridge is an iconic site that draws visitors to its covered stretch that crosses the Grand River and even the film crew for a unique backdrop in the blockbuster “It” movie, the aim of the repairs is to strengthen the bridge with minimal changes to its body. appearance.
“We want to maintain the look as much as possible,” Pinto said.
Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2023 and will likely take until 2024 to be completed, if approved by the council when making recommendations this fall.
The federal and provincial governments committed more than $4.5 million in April 2021 for its repair and rehabilitation.
The bridge was built in 1881 with wooden trusses and supplemented with steel trusses in 1950.
“They are fitted to provide additional support to the bridge,” Pinto said.
The county took ownership of the bridge in 1937 and in 1998 it was transferred to the area of Waterloo, which did a major rehabilitation of the bridge in 1999 including the improvement of steel trusses and the replacement of various wooden components followed by further repairs in subsequent years.
Several studies were conducted between 2012 and 2018 to evaluate the double-hybrid truss system, and ultimately concluded that the bridge must undergo a major rehabilitation process for its load-bearing system for the safety of the structure and its users.
The aging timber trusses transfer the load to the steel trusses that are unable to bear the full load of the bridge. If too many loads are transferred to the steel trusses, they may be overloaded and the bridge collapse.
“These need to be removed and replaced or the bridge needs additional reinforcement,” Pinto said.
The recommended option, selected based on criteria set by the regional team as well as input from the first round of public consultation, includes removal of steel trusses, strengthening of existing timber trusses with high-strength fiber reinforcement, replacement of timber decking, tar and chip surface refinishing, removal of interior white cladding and installation Timber guide.
The height of the bridge will increase by about 30 cm with additional reinforcement of the bottom.
Outside, height restriction tape will prevent heavy vehicles from using the bridge, and roof panels will be replaced with red exterior cladding.
“It’s going to be new, so it’s going to look a lot brighter,” Pinto said.
People can review the preferred design and provide feedback on improvements being considered.
The survey is open at engagewr.ca/west-montrose through July 4th and people can also post questions in the Q&A tab.