Elgin County decides next steps for collapsed Port Bruce bridge

Elgin County council made a number of decisions Tuesday about the Port Bruce bridge that collapsed last month. The dump truck that was crossing the bridge at the time of its collapse is still in the water.

The county said a temporary bridge should be in place within 2-3 months

The Imperial Road bridge collapsed in late February. (Colin Butler)

There's still a dump truck stranded in Catfish Creek, but hopefully not for long.

Elgin County council met yesterday to make several decisions related to last month's bridge collapse in Port Bruce, Ont.

Warden David Marr said the county is working with the truck's insurer to get it out of the creek as soon as possible, but they aren't sure when that might happen.

He said the county also hopes to quickly demolish the bridge remnants to minimize the impact on fish during spawning season.

"Because it's in the water itself, we could possibly be interfering with any fish trying to swim upstream, so that's why we would like to get that done sooner rather than later," said Marr.

Temporary bridge expected in 2-3 months

Marr said the county will purchase and install a temporary bridge from a private provider. If all goes according to plan, this bridge should be up and running within two to three months, he said.

The county considered other options, including renting a bridge or using a military bridge.

Neither option panned out. It would have cost about the same to rent a bridge as to build a new one, and the county was not eligible for military help because residents still have access to fire and EMS services, the county said in a news release. 

Marr said the final, permanent bridge will take over a year to complete.

"It's not going to be on the short term," he said.

Cause of collapse

Engineers hired by the county say the bridge likely collapsed because of failed anchor rods.

"This bridge is a single-load path structure and the anchor rods constitute a primary component of the bridge, which means that if the anchor rods fail, a collapse of this nature can happen," said the county's news release.

The reason that the anchor rods failed is still under investigation, said Marr. 

"I can tell you that there's no other bridges like this in Elgin County," he said. "We've reviewed our bridges and the types that they are and that's the only one that was built like that."

The Imperial Road bridge was last inspected in 2016 and passed with "flying colours," according to Malahide Township mayor Dave Mennill. 

Marr said that the anchor rods are embedded within the bridge itself and wouldn't have been seen during a visual inspection.

Marr added that there could have also been other factors that contributed to the collapse and said he wants to read the final engineers' report before making any judgments about Ontario's bridge inspection process.

"Until we have more information, I don't think I can really comment on whether bridges should be inspected more or not," he said.