MTO postpones its preferred swing bridge replacement option, seeks archaeological input

Swing Bridge, June 2019

LITTLE CURRENT – The project team is proceeding to the site assessment phase of the Little Current swing bridge replacement study, involving geotechnical and archaeological examinations of the area to determine the state of the land in possible bridge locations as well as whether or not any culturally significant artifacts may be found where the work may take place.

The swing bridge project team, led by Stantec Consulting Ltd., has hosted annual information sessions for the public as well as presented at Northeast Town council meetings to inform stakeholders of the progress on the project.

An August 14 letter to the Northeast Town, shared at the August 25 meeting, stated that the Stantec-led project team continues to gather input from various individuals and organizations about the future of the project.

“To support the evaluation process, archaeological and geotechnical field investigations will be undertaken this summer. This will include in-water and on-land geotechnical testing to determine the conditions of the subsurface and bedrock materials at the site, and stage two land archaeological assessment at the north and south sides of the channel,” the letter reads.

It adds that the team has postponed the third and final public information centre, the event at which the team was set to unveil its preferred option for replacing the 107-year-old bridge. 

The previous two public meetings took place in the month of July in recent years. Stantec crews are evaluating whether to hold an in-person meeting or whether they should present the preferred plan virtually. 

The team plans to share this plan in the coming fall or winter and they continue to gather feedback for the ongoing consultation process.

The Expositor contacted a representative from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to ask how COVID-19 has impacted the timeline of the project. A spokesperson said the project is moving ahead as planned but did not address any delays that may have occurred.

This newspaper also asked where the geotechnical and archaeological assessments would be taking place, to determine if any proposed alignments had been ruled out. The spokesperson said they would be completed “on the proposed alignments for the project,” and added that the team was not aware of any unique geological or archaeological features that may emerge as part of the investigation.

If the team should uncover any notable features, they will consider them as part of their preferred final plan.