May 7, 2018

Northumberland County representatives attended the May 7, 2018 Brighton Council Meeting in an effort to get Council to make a decision with respect to the decaying condition of the Loomis Bridge that crosses Pinewood School Road just south of Loomis Road (near the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area).

The presentation by Denise Marshall (Manager, Project Engineering) indicated that the bridge was a single lane Bailey type structure that was 88 years old.  The bridge is owned by Northumberland County but is located on a road owned by the Municipality.  It is therefore the intent of the County to transfer bridge ownership to the Municipality.  Read the Northumberland County Delegation here Northumberland County Delegation

Until the ownership of the bridge is resolved, there is a need to address the deteriorated condition of the Bridge.  The following elements were described as being in fair to poor condition:

  • Stringers
  • Deck
  • Approaches
  • Curbs

As a short term measure, the load limit on the bridge was reduced from 20 tons to 10 tons in August of 2017.  Since that time the County has done an Environmental Assessment, held discussions with Brighton Staff and done public presentations on options for the rehabilitation of this bridge.  As presented by Denise Marshall and supported by Mo Pannu (Director, Transportation and Waste), the preferred option would be a single lane pre-engineered truss replacement at a cost of $650,000 + HST.  This was documented in a letter to staff at the beginning of the year.

Council members struggled with the 50 – 50 cost sharing proposal put forward by the County especially given that the 2018 Brighton budget had already been finalized.  The decision was therefore deferred by council in order to allow staff to revisit options for the bridge and to look at financing options.

It is not clear why Brighton staff did not bring the Loomis Bridge forward as an issue paper during the 2018 budget deliberations.  The situation/proposal was not new to staff.  As was evident at Monday’s meeting, councillors were caught by surprise by the request for 50 - 50 funding and it resulted in aggressive questioning of Mo Pannu.  Rather than work toward a meaningful solution, a decision on the bridge was deferred because of a lack of information being brought forward to Council in advance of the County delegation.

The reality is that small Municipalities are strapped for infrastructure funding.  In the case of Brighton they have 37 other bridges to worry about before the Loomis Bridge is added to their list.  Cramahe is in a similar predicament and has recently decided to close two bridges rather than spend money on rehabilitation work.

This doesn’t change the fact that deficiencies with the Loomis Bridge need to be addressed. Cycling the issue through County and Municipal Council meetings is not an effective way of managing this problem.

You can read Sarah Hyatt's article from the Brighton Independent here Sarah Hyatt Article On Loomis Bridge Deelegation