Hillsburgh bridge and dam delayed

HILLSBURGH – Replacement of the aging Station Street bridge and rehabilitation of the millpond dam have been postponed until next year, after bids for the work came in much higher than expected.

Mayor Allan Alls won’t say how high the bids were compared to the estimated cost of $2.5 million, but it was enough for staff to cancel the tender process and order a re-design.

Alls also won’t say what is being changed to make the water control structure less expensive.

A notice on the town website says: “In every effort to save taxpayers’ dollars while also remaining fully compliant with the Town of Erin Procurement of Goods and Services Bylaw, the town has decided to go back to market for a Request for Tender for the reconstruction of Station Street and replacement of bridge no. 2064 and dam control structure.

“The decision to re-tender was made following the technical design changes of the dam control structure.”

Alls said it may be possible to complete a small amount of the work this year, but by the time a new request is issued and the bids processed, it would be too late to complete major work in the river by the Sept. 15 deadline set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

He said the bridge has been inspected and there are no safety concerns as long as the load limit of five tonnes remains in place. He also does not expect any problem getting a permit from Credit Valley Conservation (CVC).

The project was the subject of an environmental assessment that recommended preserving the millpond. Town council and Wellington County backed the EA result, but it was challenged by CVC and others who preferred either decommissioning the pond or creating a smaller, off-line pond.

The project was on hold for more than a year as the Ministry of the Environment considered the appeals. In February 2018 the ministry rejected the appeals and gave approval to proceed.

Town council was prepared to go ahead with the project without a grant, and had arranged $2.5 million in debt financing.

In March 2018, the town received a $1.5 million provincial grant to cover more than half the cost. Alls said the grant remains available, even though the project has again been delayed.

The bridge was built in 1917 and was first identified in 1971 as being in need of replacement.

The dam had repairs and reinforcement after an outlet pipe failed in 2011, forcing temporary closure of the road, but the province insists it be brought up to modern standards.