Editorial: Repair sensible bridges

In the summer of 2014, South Dundas council received a report indicating that the municipality had a 5.6 million dollar infrastructure deficit. This deficit was calculated as the total cost to bring all municipal infrastructure (roads, bridges, buildings) into a state of good repair. This amount was about average for the six municipalities that make up the United Counties.

Since the report was tabled, South Dundas uploaded Upper Canada Road to the Counties. The municipality also has downloaded, or agreed to download two roads from the county (Carman Road south of County Road 2, and County Road 4.) During this time, bridges on South Branch, Devries and Nine Mile Roads were closed due to unsafe condition.

At council’s last meeting in 2017, councillors received reports showing the demolition, repair and replacement costs of each bridge. Before the reports were completed, council had already decided to close Devries Road as a through road. Proper removal of that roads bridge is pegged to cost $40,000. Renewal of the other two bridges are pegged to cost over $250,000 each. Council has tentatively agreed to renew the South Branch and Nine Mile bridges pending budget consultations in January. Repairing the South Branch Road bridge does make sense as there are houses on the road. The bridge closure has caused an inconvenience to owners of a farm that has been split due to the closure.

Where council has veered off the road is considering repairing the Nine Mile Road bridge. There are no houses on the road and the stated use for the road is agriculture purposes. However councilor Archie Mellan stated at the last council meeting that the bridge, even if repaired, is too narrow for modern farm equipment. Why spend the money to repair this bridge then? Suitable alternative routes already exist.

With two new roads downloaded to South Dundas, and ever increasing costs to maintain the infrastructure we already have, why saddle the taxpayer with repairing a bridge of convenience? Why repair a bridge on a road that is not even winter maintained?

A sensible solution would be remove the bridge or keep it closed until finances improve. With the looming infrastructure deficit in the municipality, that may be a long time coming.