Local resident says replacement of Swing Bridge with similar bridge should be considered

GORDON—Why not replace the Swing Bridge in Little Current with a similar bridge with two lanes that only took nine days to carry out in Virginia.

That is a proposal that is being brought forward by a local resident to the consultants on the Swing Bridge study. Bert Liffmann, a Gordon-Barrie Island resident told the Recorder, “I read about a bridge that was replaced in the US in only nine days. I think it’s an interesting option. It sounds as if it would probably provide for a simple solution, and I think it’s good information to get out there,” he said, noting he will be sending this information to the consultants for the Swing Bridge study.

“I think the replacement bridge option is a great solution because it is straight forward, provides for two lanes of traffic, falls in line with everyone who wants to keep the current bridge, and would not disturb businesses in Little Current by having a bridge that bypasses most of the town,” said Mr. Liffmann.

“At the presentation in Little Current organized by consultants Stantec and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), many Islanders, businesses and councils showed up to discuss the proposed process and the options to be considered,” said Mr. Liffmann. “From a cost point of view, they ranged from the tens of millions to hundreds of millions to be potentially spent dependent on the option chosen.”

“There are many other critical issues that must be considered, but the bottom line is that this is the beginning of a process not the end of it,” continued Mr. Liffmann. “One community in the US, for example, replaced a similar historical swing bridge in nine days with a new, identical-looking bridge, but with two lanes. They did this in a clever way at minimal cost. A solution like this one could satisfy the history and nostalgia buffs (and the tourist market) and business and practical considerations as well (safety, traffic flow etc.). There’s something to be said about how things look here that attracts attention and there’s no denying the importance of tourism to the Island; a working swing bridge is rare and interesting, why not explore an option that allows for modernization without sacrificing the unique look of the structure of the 1900s. This too could be looked at by the consultants.”

Mr. Liffmann provided the Recorder a link on Industry Tap Into News about the largest swing bridge in the US completely dismantled and replaced in nine days.

An article written by David Russell Schilling dated July 13, 2013 reads, “George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge: A swing bridge swivels allowing ships to pass and then swings back to allow automobile or train traffic to continue. Double swing bridges have two swinging or swiveling sections. The George P. Coleman Memorial bridge running between Yorktown and Gloucester Point in Virginia, USA was built in 1952 and widened in 1995.”

“Originally built at a cost of $9 million, the bridge spans 3,750 feet with a capacity of 15,000 vehicles a day. The bridge was carrying 27,000 vehicles a day and the machinery rotating the swing spans was regularly experiencing mechanical problems,” wrote Mr. Schilling. “After considering a tunnel or another location upstream, engineers rebuilt the bridge off site and the bridge was rebuilt in the same location. Nearly 2,500 feet of truss and swing spans in six sections were floated on the river into place. The spans were complete with pavement, light-poles and safety walls. The new bridge is three times wider than the original and has four lanes that can handle up to 50,000 cars a day.”