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Region seeks input to preserve West Montrose Covered Bridge

Gail Martin
Independent Editor

Regional staff will be looking at a number of options to protect the integrity of the West Montrose Covered Bridge, after it was closed last fall for repairs.

The bridge was closed after passing kayakers noticed a cracked beam under the bridge.

Regional staff quickly closed the bridge, and determined the damage had been done by a single incident of an overweight vehicle travelling over the bridge.

The bridge was closed to traffic for five months, just reopening last week.

This Tuesday, regional staff presented a number of options for the bridge at a public information centre held at Woolwich Township council chambers.

Tom Reitz, with the region, said that one of the biggest issues in preserving the structure of the bridge is to find ways to keep oversize vehicles off the bridge.

The current weight limit on the bridge is set at 3 tonnes — a limit that would permit most personal vehicles to cross the bridge, but not farm equipment, nor larger trucks and buses.

The region has placed new weight-limit signs near the covered bridge, and is now looking at whether to provide height or width restrictors, or to look at other options to prevent these larger vehicles from using the bridge.

While height limiters may be a cost-effective option, they are not always visually appealing, said Reitz.

“Whatever happens to the bridge, has to keep in mind the Cultural Heritage Landscape from all views,” said Reitz.

The West Montrose Residents’ Association (also known as the BridgeKeepers) has supported some of the suggestions from the region, but suggests a lot more can be done.

Among the groups’ recommendations include creating a more frequent inspection schedule for the bridge, using video surveillance to deter the use of oversize vehicles on the bridge, and putting regular maintenance of the bridge into the region’s capital budget cycle. They are also proposing heavy fines for those ignoring the weight restrictions.

The region will continue to seek input from residents over the next two weeks, before preparing a report with recommendations to regional council, which will be presented sometime in mid-March.

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