Fountain Street bridge rebuild in Cambridge brings 2 year closure

The Fountain Street bridge in Cambridge needs repair. The rebuild will close Fountain Street from Blair Road to west of Linden Drive for two years, with traffic detours starting Dec 1.

Region decides to reconstruct bridge rather than rehabilitate existing structure

Changes to the Fountain Street bridge in Cambridge include safer rails and wider multi-use trails. (Region of Waterloo)

Major construction to the Fountain Street bridge spanning the Grand River in Cambridge will close a large section of the road as workers carry out repair work. The rebuild is expected to take two years to complete.

Construction will begin on Nov. 21 and will affect Fountain Street from Blair Road to west of Linden Drive. The road will close completely to all traffic starting Dec.1. 

"We realized that a bridge that was pushing 60 years of age and designed for 50 to 60 years of life, it was reaching the end of its usable service life," said John Stephenson, a senior project manager overseeing the project for the Region of Waterloo. 

Because of its original 1957 design, the region came to the conclusion that it would be too difficult to rehabilitate it and decided it would be better in the long run to do a full reconstruction of the bridge instead.

"It's like an old car, at some point you need to make a decision to not put anymore work in it. We realized that back in 2011-2012," he said.

Problems with current bridge

The bridge has a number of problems including railings not meeting current standards for crash and bicycle safety. And, the current structure is prone to effects of flood water.

The bridge also doesn't have adequate space for pedestrian and cyclists, and has no lighting. Currently, there is only a narrow sidewalk and narrow shoulders with curb.

The new bridge design is said to solve those problems. For starters, it has a projected life span of 100 years and, according to officials, will need little maintenance. 

"The technology and the design details nowadays really tend to drive longevity," Stephenson said. "We should easily get 100 years out of it and it will be an easier bridge to rehabilitate when it needs it."

Modern design

The new bridge will have a modern design and will be more accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists with wider sidewalks.

It will also help wildlife have better passage under the bridge during high water conditions, and won't have the current deck drains. Instead it will collect water at the ends of the bridge, avoiding potentially-contaminated water falling directly to the Grand River.

As for the years of construction ahead, Stephenson says there are two key factors behind why it will take until the fall of 2018 to complete. 

"The reconstruction and demolition cycles are very much driven by the time of year," he said. "Another thing that drives construction on this one is that the Grand River water levels fluctuates quite severely."

Detour routes

Several detour routes will be available for the heavy commuter traffic along Fountain Street west of Blair Road: a short section of Highway 401 and Shantz Hill Road from Highway 401 to Fountain Street will take the load.

Temporary relocation of bus stops on Fountain Street may be needed. However, GRT bus service will remain the same along the current route between Preston Parkway and Shantz Hill Road during construction.