Sunday, July 21, 2024

Lanark County plans replacement for historic single-lane Blakeney Bridge

Blakeney Bridge is slated to be replaced. The 100-year-old bridge crosses the Mississippi River between Almonte and Pakenham. – Photo submitted by Lanark County

In a bid to ensure the safety and longevity of the iconic Blakeney Bridge, Lanark County is gearing up for a replacement project.

Lanark County is providing the public with an in-person update on the Blakeney Bridge replacement design and schedule, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 29 at the Almonte and District Community Centre, 182 Bridge St., Almonte.

The existing single-lane bridge is more than 100 years old and crosses the Mississippi River
between Almonte and Pakenham. It is slated to be replaced this year with a two-lane modular
steel bridge, including a dedicated 1.6-metre lane for pedestrians and cyclists separated by
flexible bollards during the summer.

The public information session will include displays showing the final design, along with information about the proposed schedule, noted Sean Derouin, manager of public works. “County staff will be on hand to answer questions as well.”

The public information centre (PIC) will be held in a drop-in format on Thursday, Feb. 29.

According to Lanark County information on the bridge, despite past rehabilitation efforts, including a 1975 deck replacement and in 2000, a major rehabilitation extending the bridge’s life by 25 years, the structure faces significant challenges. An emergency repair in 2007, a 2019 corrosion perforated girder repair, and inspections in 2021 and 2022 have identified issues ranging from stringer strengthening needs to concrete deck delamination.

Now, the bridge is operating under a 12-tonne load limit, and immediate action is deemed necessary, the county noted. The deteriorating conditions, particularly the severe stringer and girder end corrosion, have led to a recommendation to reduce the load posting to five tonnes and replace the bridge as soon as possible.

Blakeney Bridge is located approximately one kilometre east of County Road 29, and plays a pivotal role in providing convenient access for farmers, locals of the hamlet, and tourists alike. The bridge, originally constructed in 1912, comprises three separate structures spanning the Mississippi River via two islands. The structures, with a single lane-wide deck, consist of an 87-foot, two-span West Bridge, an 87-foot, two-span Middle Bridge, and a single 43-foot span East Bridge.

The county is currently coordinating remedial structural steel and concrete deck repairs to maintain the existing load limit. The replacement project is set to introduce a modular panel bridge, with the decision on a single lane or two lanes pending public consultation results.

Blakeney Park, within a 200-metre radius of the bridge, is considered a cultural heritage landscape of regional significance. The park will be a focal point in the Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report for Blakeney Bridge, ensuring the preservation of heritage attributes.

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