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'We are trying to get ahead of it': City starts process to replace South Porcupine bridge

Associate Engineering won a $742K bid to design and oversee the project
The Evans Street bridge in South Porcupine in May 2024.

Knowing that the wood on a South Porcupine bridge is deteriorating, the city is hoping to avoid a closure by driving ahead with an unbudgeted project to upgrade it. 

Associated Engineering (Ont.) Ltd. was given the $742,433 design and contract administration project for the Evans Street bridge. 

"We are trying to get ahead of it. We didn't want to have this load rated or anything because ... that jeopardizes a lot of the traffic flow and we would force everybody through the back road," director of growth and infrastructure Scott Tam told Timmins council at its May 14 meeting.

Evans Street runs south from Golden Avenue, connecting people to Connaught Hill. It's also on the path for mining and logging trucks to access Langmuir Road.

The existing two-lane bridge has a sidewalk on the west side and its deck is made up of concrete and timber. 

In the latest Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM), deficiencies were found and if they aren't fixed, the structure will need to be load-rated, which limits the kind of vehicles that can drive on it. The inspection consultant is looking at alternatives to avoid getting to this point, such as reducing traffic to one lane, according to the staff report.

Because the wood elements are severely deteriorating, a full bridge replacement is the ultimate recommendation.

The contract awarded this week is not budgeted for this year and winter maintenance cost savings are being used to cover the $329,458 being spent in 2024. The remaining amount will be added to the 2025 capital budget. 

Coun. John Curley asked about the process moving forward, wondering if the project would be back at the council table for a construction contract.

Having a third party do the design and contract administration is a similar process to how the city approached the Hoyle bridge replacement, said Tam. 

Associated Engineering will design the new Evans Street bridge and oversee the construction activities. While they will have input in finding the construction company, Tam said it will be done through the city's formal purchasing process.