Sudbury’s Big Fix: Infrastructure repairs involve big money

Cities and towns across the country are struggling to fix aging infrastructure, and some say extreme measures will be necessary unless investments are made.

Some municipalities face repair bills that are half the community's entire budget

The Coniston Creek bridge on Government Road in Greater Sudbury was built in 1930. The city's 2012 inspection report calls for its replacement by 2013 at a cost of $600,000. The report also calls for a load restriction of 25 tonnes. This bridge was listed in City of Greater Sudbury's budget outlook for 2011, but repairs do not appear to have been completed. (CBC)

Cities and towns across the country, including in northeastern Ontario, are struggling to fix aging infrastructure — and some say extreme measures will be necessary unless investments are made.

For the town of Iroquois Falls, near Timmins, the future has arrived.

The mayor of the community said concrete barriers are about to go up at both ends of an aging bridge in that town.

Gilles Forget said people who live on the other side can still get to town, but it will take longer to make the commute.

The bridge dates back to the 1940s. During a regular inspection, an engineer determined it needs to be replaced immediately.

At a cost of $6 million, Forget says the cost will eat up more than half of the town’s $11 million annual budget. So the bridge is being closed instead.

“Certainly as the mayor and council, we are responsible for the safety of our people,” he said.

“We don’t want our residents or anybody else really to be involved in some sort of crisis with that bridge.”

The bridge will likely stay closed until the province can provide money to fix it, Forget said.

‘Can’t afford to maintain them’

Small towns may be among the first to feel the effects of a massive repair backlog, but some say cities like Greater Sudbury are also moving in that direction.

Greg Clausen, a retired engineer who worked with the City of Greater Sudbury for almost three decades says municipalities, including Sudbury, may have to start closing down bridges due to the high cost to repair them. (Youtube)

“Some bridges may have to be closed down because we just can’t afford to maintain them,” said Greg Clausen, a retired engineer who worked with the city of Greater Sudbury for almost three decades.

“I think it is inevitable that you will see some changes in the bridges in Sudbury … and right across the entire province.”

Sudbury's roads department said the gap between spending and what is needed to deal with the infrastructure repair backlog sits at about $700 million.

For more on Sudbury's Big Fix, including interactive maps, visit our special feature page.

      1 of 0


      To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

      By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.