Station Street bridge report includes potential of repair

There may be a solution to the Station Street bridge problem in Hillsburgh, but there are still numerous hurdles to cross.

On Jan. 10, road superintendent Larry Van Wyck provided a written report of a meeting of all of those involved. That included Credit Valley Conservation and the Ministry of Natural Resources staff, the owner of a pond and control structures on the north side of Station Road, Erin representatives and engineering consultant, and representatives from Wellington County emergency management.

Van Wyck said a video of the culvert and inlet structures was shown to illustrate the problem with the culvert below Station Road.

Councillor John Brennan said, “It looks like there is a potential way to fix this.”

Van Wyck’s report said the proposal is to install a liner in the existing culvert and pressure grout the space between the existing pipe and the liner and fill the portion of the void that the grout can flow into. That method was discussed and explained at the meeting of all officials.

Brennan said that approach would require MNR and CVC approvals before any work could begin. Agency officials appeared receptive, but advised that the proposal will require formal plans and specifications. Both agencies indicated that they would process any application in a timely manner.

Brennan said there are concerns the structure must be able to serve as a roadbed and as a dam. “Anything we do cannot impair either of those functions.”

The MNR requires a permit to construct or maintain a dam structure. The road is considered to be an earthen dam. Of particular concern is the structural integrity and hydraulic capacity; verification of both will be required.

Brennan said from an environmental point of view, there was talk of removing the dam altogether, which could benefit the fishery. A 2007 fish management plan had identified the dam as a candidate for removal.

Brennan said after considerable discussion regarding the removal of the dam and the ownership of the control structures and how to repair or rehabilitate it, the group decided that is really a separate issue.

Triton Engineering and Van Wyck will work on a plan to address the situation.

Van Wyck’s report added MNR and CVC officials mentioned that environmentally, they would prefer to see the dam removed, but they do not have the authority to order the removal of a dam on private property.

The MNR requires that after the culvert is lined and the grout work is completed the subsurface soil conditions can be confirmed as adequate to function as a road and as a dam.

Before the meeting, Van Wyck met with a contractor who reviewed the site and existing conditions.

Van Wyck said that contractor thinks he can complete the work and is in the process of preparing a proposal on how it would be undertaken, and the costs.

The method of repair was pursued to avoid some of the implications involved with undertaking construction work on the dam and the approvals process and imposed standards that would apply.

Triton Engineering is currently working on a proposal on behalf of Erin. Upon completion, applications will be made simultaneously to the CVC and the MNR for approval.

Councillor Barb Tocher said it seems the road structure is a dam, yet officials might also want to see the dam removed.

She wondered if that meant the dam – or the entire road.

Brennan said he understood the agencies were concerned only with the portion of the dam impeding the water.

Mayor Lou Maieron noted his concern is the control structure of the dam does not traverse the road.

While council would like to reopen road to traffic, Maieron believes council needs more information – and learn who would be paying. “Is it the taxpayer or the private property owner?” he asked.

He thinks council needs to know estimated costs.

He also wants to know if the private landowner has contributed to any of the costs thus far.

Brennan said, “I can shed some dark on that.”

He said, “One of the problems is that nobody is entirely sure why the structure is there is the first place [the one that feeds the culvert].”

One thought is that it is an overflow so the water does not get too high – which means the culvert should be dry most of the time. The other idea is because the water is entering the structure from the bottom, it is taking cold water and passing it down to the next pond, which is conducive to fishery protection.

Maieron said, “This is happening because the boards are broken – not by design.”

Tocher said at one point the municipality had considered purchasing the property.

But the thought of that day back then was to remove the control structure to allow the pond to go back to the river – as it was – to be a better cold water fishery habitat.

“There is too much surface heating on the pond.”

Brennan pointed out removal of the dam would require an environmental assessment and a lot more study than council is ready to commit to just to get the road operational.

He said studies would also have to consider all the downstream impacts as well. “That would be a long, drawn out process. Fixing the road is a lot more urgent situation than that.”

Maieron said there needs to be some type of financial cost agreement with the current landowner. “We’ve already put a lot of money into this.”

He agreed it is a municipal road and people need to cross it, but there is no idea of the cost.

“I don’t think the taxpayers should pay the whole cost,” he said.