The condition of the Lamorie Street bridge and its usefulness moving forward has been brought before council at different times in recent years, and is now back where it started.
The bridge is located just north of the Lakeshore Drive-Pinewood Park intersection near the West Ferris Legion.
It continues to show signs of deterioration which is raising concerns.
A thorough inspection will provide insight into its current status and help determine whether it should be rehabilitated, replacement or closed off to traffic.
North Bay city council has awarded a contract to Towards Sustainable Infrastructure (TSI) Inc in the amount of $87,000 to complete a detailed inspection of the structure.
It will help council decide if the bridge should be rehabilitated, replaced or closed off to traffic.
“It is a bridge that is still well used in the community, but the study will determine the viability of its ongoing operation, and potential costs for rehabilitation,” said city councillor Chris Mayne, chair of Infrastructure and Operations.
“Certainly, for the businesses in the area it is important. And if we’re trying to encourage economic development in that industrial park, it is used as another access to the highway so there is value to it. The challenge is what value do you place on that additional service?”
Councillor Mac Bain reminded council that at last check, the cost to replace the bridge was estimated to be around $9 million.
“This project has been in and out of our capitol forecast a number of times. The last time I believe was three or four years ago and it was $9 million to replace the bridge back then. And yes, there are vehicles that do transition over that bridge, but it is not $9 million worth,” said Bain.
“I think this council, once we see that report, has to have a wholesome discussion amongst ourselves. We need to talk to the surrounding neighbourhood and the businesses that use it and have a conversation about the life of this bridge after we see the report.”
Councillor Mark King agreed with Bain, saying it is important to know how much traffic flow the bridge handles on any given day.
“As we watch 17B right now over Duchesney Creek and the fact that that bridge has been closed now for probably in excess of 8 months, it begins to put questions in the public’s mind as to whether or not some of these bridges are actually viable, and do we actually have the capital dollars to replace them.”
Mayne said at a cost of $9 million dollars, it would be a project council would be reluctant to take on even with partner funding from the provincial and federal governments, with all three levels of government each paying one-third of the cost.
“If it was just to redo the decking, I’m guessing at numbers, that could be say two to three million dollars total cost. If there is partner funding with the federal and provincial governments, that makes it even more attractive. But even at $3 million council would have to take a serious look at it. How much use is there?” questioned Mayne who suggested closing the bridge would require rerouting traffic down Booth Road.
“If the Lamorie Street bridge was closed, there is a cement factory and a quarry further down Birchs Road so they would have to start using Booth Road to access Highway 11. But at the end of the day, those roads are still commercially viable. It is not like they would lose complete access it just creates some level of inconvenience for them.”
The detour would also force the trucks onto Lakeshore Drive and past Sunset Park School.