Bridge to Nowhere

by Joseph Coppolino - EAP
Bridge to Nowhere
The Drouin Road bridge pedestrian crossing has remained closed since the bridge’s reconstruction in 2014. While an undisclosed amount of funds was set aside to complete the sidewalk approaches to the crossing they were never completed, leaving just a rocky, overgrown path. The never-used pedestrian crossing cost the city approximately $80,000 in 2014 and will now be permanently closed. (Photo : Joseph Coppolino)

City officials are recommending to council that the pedestrian crossing on the Drouin Road bridge in Cheney be permanently closed, despite costing the city $80,000 to build in 2014.

In 2014, ahead of the municipal elections, Clarence-Rockland carried out the reconstruction of the bridge south of Russell Road in the Village of Cheney. The 1920s-era single-lane wood-and-steel bridge was replaced with a two-lane steel-and-concrete structure after the bridge was closed for safety reasons in the spring of 2014. The Colautti Group, now a part of Tomlinson Group’s Greenbelt Construction subsidiary, was hired to install the prefabricated bridge at a cost of $1.2 million.

According to the City’s report to council, the construction of the north-south bridge included the pedestrian crossing on the structure’s east side at a cost of approximately $80,000. This did not include the price of installing sidewalk approaches to the bridge, for which “the council secured an additional amount,” according to the administration’s report. However, the approaches were never built, and the pedestrian crossing never opened to the public.

The city said that the sidewalks leading to the bridge were never built for “unconfirmed reasons,” and the project was not pursued by the council led by late Mayor Guy Desjardin following the 2014 municipal elections.

Status quo best course of action

The city’s report explored three options for the unused pedestrian crossing. The first option, which involves building the sidewalks up to the bridge, would cost the city $400,000 plus an additional $3500 annually for inspections and upkeep. The cost of taking down the crossing, option two, would cost “much higher than option one,” as it would require an in-depth study, demolition, transporting of materials to the landfill and work on the existing bridge.

The administration is thus recommending a third option. The “Status Quo” option is to leave the pedestrian crossing as is and incur no additional cost to the city, with the only impact being “the optics associated with the fact that the bridge has an unconnected sidewalk.”

Little use for pedestrians

In determining the best course of action, the administration conducted a traffic study for the bridge. Despite not possessing the equipment required to count foot traffic (and claims they were unsuccessful in their attempts to call in a supplier to complete the count), the city determined the bridge is of little use for pedestrians “due to the low number of residences in the vicinity and the absence of other pedestrian infrastructure.”

Location of 2014 funds for sidewalk undetermined

While the city acknowledges additional financial resources were secured for the construction of the Drouin Road bridge sidewalk approaches, which would have cost $400,000 according to the city’s own estimation, officials did not confirm the total amount of funding allocated and where that funding went after the project was not completed before this edition of the Vision went to print on Wednesday, October 11.

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