FERGUS – One could almost hear a collective sigh of relief across Centre Wellington on Nov. 30 with the reopening of the St. David Street/Highway 6 bridge across the Grand River here.
The event began with music by piper Peter Hummel while members of the public had a chance to check out the view from the new bridge.
At the opening, there was cheering from the 100-plus gathered for the ceremonial ribbon cutting and plaque unveiling, followed by Mayor Kelly Linton riding in the antique Fergus fire truck, the first vehicle to cross the new bridge.
Joining Centre Wellington officials at the ceremony were Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott, MP Michael Chong and Senator Rob Black.
Linton began by stating officials wanted to get through the opening ceremony fast, “so we can open the bridge quickly.”
“It’s really exciting to have this bridge done thanks to the Ontario government for the Connecting Links funding of $2.2-million to replace the bridge, and the township’s 2% capital levy which helped make it look really awesome,” he said.
Linton pointed out the structure’s heritage-style lights and lookout, as well as its width, which make it “really suited for downtown Fergus.”
Linton thanked Centre Wellington residents and downtown businesses for their patience.
“It was a long project and was difficult for a lot of people – but we really need to look after our downtowns and do something special with our downtown bridges,”he said, adding a lot of interesting and unexpected things happened along the way.
Those delayed the bridge opening by a month.
“But at the end of the day, we’re going to have an awesome bridge – and we’re not going to have to worry about it for another 75 years,” said Linton.
Chong recognized Linton and council for their work.
“It’s nice to have these lookouts so people can appreciate the views of the Grand River,” said Chong.
He too recognized local business owners who had to put up with the St. David Street bridge reconstruction as well as the Tower Street bridge rebuild a few years ago.
“It’s great that the township and community were able to work together to get this bridge done,” said Chong, who noted he was looking forward to the bridge opening so he can move his riding office to the site of the former Fergus swimming pool building (at the corner of St. David and Queen Streets).
Arnott told the crowd, “It is nice to be able to come to an event I can actually walk to from my office, so I didn’t need to burn any fossil fuels to get here.”
He said, “If you think about it, this is probably one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the whole county. It was obviously a necessary project, but we need to express our appreciation to the merchants and residents for their patience as the project moved along.”
Kim Jefferson, current chair of the Fergus BIA, expressed the group’s gratitude to the township for working with the community on the bridge design, “which reflects the historical nature of the downtown.
“The BIA is currently working to bring that heritage back to our downtown core,” she added.
“This just adds another aspect to our history in the downtown.”
The township also thanked the following contractors and consultants for their work on the bridge reconstruction: McLean Taylor, J.G. Goetze Construction, Forterra, AMG Metals Inc. London Caulking, Central Construction, D&D Diamond Cutting, Coco Paving, Piccoli Construction, JCH Contracting, Terry Hewitson Enterprises, Triton Engineering Services Ltd., WSP, and UTS.