Inspections on West Montrose covered bridge underway

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The first of two inspections of the West Montrose covered bridge – also known as the “Kissing Bridge” – began today as the Region of Waterloo works to assess the condition of the historic structure.

Last week, the region announced the bridge would be closed between Feb. 16 and 28 to allow the region to conduct inspections.

The region said it is looking to strengthen the bridge – which was built in 1881 and is one of Canada’s oldest covered bridges – through a major structural upgrade.

“We’ve got wood truss, steel girder and red cladding on the outside as well as this interior white cladding that has been removed for the inspection,” Michelle Pinto, Region of Waterloo engineer said.

Pinto said the wooden truss is slowly shedding its weight to the steel truss which was manufactured in 1944.

A second inspection is planned for the spring, which will focus on the outside of the bridge, assessing the abutment, piers and floor beams.

The detailed inspection of the timber truss will see the bridge closed until the end of the month.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a great project. It’s such an icon in the region, and it’s a heritage asset that’s valued, highly valued by our community, and it’s a very exciting and interesting project,” said Pinto.

Pinto stressed the public’s input is vital to refining the preferred finished product, adding that the region appreciates the significance of the bridge as a local landmark.

“I came and visited with my parents who were visiting from Hamilton. I hadn’t been here, and it was a lovely site,” Pinto said. “It’s kind of amazing how in 1881 they can build such a structure that can continue to last to today.”

A 2022 report pegs the cost of the entire rehabilitation cost around $4 million, depending on the final scope of work approved by council.

There have been some project delays, with construction initially expected to be underway by this summer.

Instead, the official timeline now expects regional council approval in the summer with construction planned for 2024.

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