Queensway community residents miss their bridge; city council ponders $2 million replacement.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON January 29, 2012 – It was built in 1972 so that students could get to the school on the other side of the railway tracks.  Jack Pierce a resident in the Glenwood School Drive part of Burlington, south of the QEW and west of Guelph Line, said he was told that it would last forever when it was built.  Forever arrived last November 24th when after a close inspection the city said the bridge was probably not safe for pedestrian use and the city immediately closed the structure.

Built in the 70's to allow people from the Glenwood School Drive community to get to shops and community amenities the bridge is now unsafe.

To have the bridge collapse onto the GO train tracks would create a level of havoc the city could only shudder at.

Now the city has to decide what to do with the bridge and for the people who live in what is sort of a landlocked community.

What came as a bit of a surprise to many was the actual traffic level – the numbers reported were – 70 trips a day – and that counted the trip over as one trip and the trip back as a second trip.  Which suggests that some 35 people use the bridge each day.  Not exactly high traffic but there has to be a way for the people in that community to be able to get out.  The only retail outlet in the community is a very small, slightly shabby convenience store.

The bridge has undergone a number of ongoing fix-ups but there were never any serious problems.  All it needed was regular maintenance.  Somehow, someone missed the degree to which the rusting had taken hold and with that information in hand the bridge got closed – real quick.

One city hall wag was astounded at the dollars that were being suggested to resolve this problem and suggested it might be cheaper to just buy everyone a car or at least a bicycle.  Several members of Council talked of the need for people to do more walking and cycling – which didn’t go down very well with the few people from the community in the audience.

Council committee members were experiencing a little heartburn over the costs involved and discussion took place as to what other options were possible.

The staff report recommended spending the $380,000. to get the bridge operational again and then look into what the options were over the next five years.

That idea didn’t settle with Councillor Sharman all that well and he wondered why it was not possible to create some kind of a foot path westward from the bridge to the GO station parking lot where pedestrians could then use the well-lit underground tunnel to the south side of the tracks and access the transit service from the south side of the tracks.

Example of the rust that has set in throughout the bridge making it unsafe for public use not to mention the havoc that would take place if the thing fell down on the GO tracks.

There were problems with that solution and the answers that came back from staff were based more on what they thought than what they knew.  Turns out there is a small creek running through the property the foot path would be built along and that would mean getting approvals from the Conservation Authority.   The path would have to be paved and lit and during the discussion no one was really sure if the property needed was actually available.

Residents had been without a bridge since November 25th – close to 75 days and all they had to look at was a report with a recommendation that Council didn’t seem too keen on approving.

Staff reports to committee usually get voted on and passed along to a full Council meeting where approval is given.  This report was not voted on but referred to Council so that it would not be delayed till the next round of committee.

The engineers were given their instructions; take a look at that path possibility and come back with some creative solutions.

From the left Julie Kirkwood, Tanya Valenti and husband Paolo with their daughters - these are the people who pulled together the 240 signature petition asking that the bridge be repaired - quickly.

The community wasn’t exactly idle during all this.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone from the community able to make a delegation.  Paolo Valenti, a community resident sat in the public gallery blissfully unaware that he had a right to speak at the meeting.  While he had pulled together a petition from the community he didn’t know they could make a delegation.  He gave the petition with the 240 signatures on it which he passed on to the ward councillor Marianne Mead Ward who didn’t seem to advocate as energetically as she has in the past for this community.

The original options brought to a Community Services Committee meeting were to spend $380,000.00 to fix up the bridge and make it stable for the next five years.  While this is an unexpected expense there was more than $500,000.00 saved on the Fairview Brant intersection road work done so getting the Drury Lane bridge back into service isn’t a financial concern.  City engineers felt it would take four to six months to fix up the bridge to the point where it could be used for foot traffic.

Five years down the road the bridge would have to be completely re-built at a cost of $2,000,000.00 in 2012 dollars.

The community now has a better idea as to just what they can do – expect to see them out at the Council meeting on Monday, the 30th.

What no one mentioned during the Committee meeting was the significant increase in housing that was added to the community last April when Council approved a project that added more than 50 units to property that previously held six houses.  Given the size of the lots – 1/2 acre each for most of them – this community is ripe for developers who want to build smaller units and significantly increase density.


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