By James Matthews (Local Journalism Initiative reporter)
Each of Algonquin Highlands’ five bridges are structurally sound.
Adam Thorn, the township’s public works manager, delivered inspection results to council during its Oct. 13 regular meeting. He said the joint project with Haliburton County was the second of three inspections.
“Everything turned out really well on the bridges,” he said. “The overall condition is good. No major repairs required.”
Any minor repairs will be folded into the 2023 maintenance budget.
To secure better pricing due to setup costs for the consultant, a request for proposal stated that the successful proponent would be retained for two cycles with the option for a third cycle subject to satisfactory performance (2020, 2022 and 2024).
Keystone Bridge Management Corporation performed inspections, provided comments, service life, and estimated replacement values on five bridges.
The 28-year-old Bear Lake Road Bridge was deemed to be in good serviceable condition. There was some decay present in the southwest corner abutment crib that will require partial replacement of timbers in a few years.
Its replacement value is pegged to be $3,380,000.
Consultants said the 77-year-old Buckslide Dam Bridge should be considered as two structures. The new bridge spans the old structure and is in good condition. The original structure carries the water from the dam overflow and appears to be an old T-Beam structure possibly extended to the north with a concrete culvert.
Due to the high velocity flow through the original structure, the 2020 inspection of the original structure was from a distance. The condition of the north end of the culvert structure appeared good and engineers were unable to access the south end. Its replacement value is $1,218,000.
“When it comes time to further inspection, repairs, or even a rebuild, we would definitely need to have other agencies involved with that,” Thorn said.
The St. Peters Bridge, which is 60 years old, was assessed and is in good condition. The main concern is the missing drainage tubes at the bridge corners.
“Current damage is minimal, extensions should be replaced to prevent further damage to the girder ends and bearing seats,” engineers noted in the report to council. Its replacement value is $3,075,000.
The 33-year-old Dawson Road culvert was deemed to be in good condition. Its replacement value is $590,000.
The 49-year-old Airport Road Bridge is in overall very good condition. There is no warrant for rehabilitation at this time. There is consideration to replace joint seals as a maintenance activity. Its replacement value is $3,181,000.
Ward 3 Councillor Jennifer Dailloux asked if the replacement costs were set in stone.
“When the end of the life cycle of any bridge comes to pass, there might be a redesign,” she said. “[There may be] thinking about how a bridge might be crafted differently to reduce the overall cost.”
Thorn said the replacement costs reflect the price to duplicate the existing structure.
“These costs that are replacement values listed in the report are based on if the bridge was to fail today and be replaced tomorrow,” Thorn said. “It would be taking one bridge out, replacing it with the exact same style and material as what’s currently there.”
Public Works stockpiles sand for winter
Township officials received a pair of bids for the screening and stockpiling of winter sand.
A request for proposals was issued Sept. 8 and closed Sept. 28. Bids came in from Hawk River Construction at $69,000 plus applicable tax and Francis Thomas Contracting for $45,919 plus applicable tax.
Public Works initially earmarked $45,000 for the material.
Although the bid from Frances Thomas Contracting is over budget by $919, plus applicable tax, council awarded them the contract. The overage will be funded from the regular operational budget.
“Both of them were over budget, but one of them was slightly over budget,” Thorn said.
During the budget process this time last year, quite a few projects were coming in way under budget, he said.
“I think that had a lot of do with fuel costs,” Thorn said. “Due to the increased costs and the unknown, I think a lot of places were scared of that and were trying to cover themselves.”
Many more companies have gotten comfortable with their fuel surcharges.
He said he expects continuous increases on projects over the next two years. And that will be because of fuel prices.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said council experiences a tough time with every municipal budget process and prices are increasing for everything.
“The residual effects of the pandemic and supply chain challenges will make the next budget process quite a challenge,” she said. “There’s more of a pent-up capital demand than there is money to fund them.”
The overage for the winter sand might be made up from the extra coin after the purchase of two brine tanks came in below budget.
In the 2022 operating budget, staff earmarked $50,000 for the purchase of two brine tanks to be purchased for the storage of liquid calcium for road dust suppression operations.
Staff got one bid from a Sept. 8 RFP: Road Maintenance Equipment and Service Inc. offered the tanks for $36,900 plus applicable tax.