Work on the Black Bridge in Bracebridge is nearing completion. 

The project began in June 2020. The 98-year-old bridge is located over the south branch of the Muskoka River on Matthiasville Road. In 2016, the town of Bracebridge brought in Tatham and Associates Ltd. Consulting Engineers to have a look at it. They concluded that it had reached the end of its useful service life and needed to be replaced.

McPherson Andrews Contracting Limited was brought in to do the work along with Planmac Engineering Inc. 

Engineering Technologist Yvon Gravel tells the newsroom that the bridge is ready to be installed. “The bridge has been fabricated off-site,” he explains. “It’s currently at the paint shop where the steel is being galvanized and painted.” Gravel expects it to be delivered by the end of the month and installed and operating shortly after Christmas. 

When the announcement was made on who will do the work, the town said the new Black Bridge will be designed for full highway loading with no load restrictions enforced. 

“They constructed abutments on both sides of the river,” Gravel says, noting the old ones were removed. “The new ones will have the bridge raised higher than the old bridge so to prove adequate freeboard in case of high flows.”

“We expected the bridge to be on-site by this time,” Gravel says. He estimates the work is two to three weeks behind schedule. He explains the work schedule was made in early 2020 before the COVID-19 took full effect. “The approach of winter has made it a little more of a concern because of snow plowing and such,” he adds. The original plan was to utilize the bridge during the water to help with plowing. 

Gravel says while the plan is to have the bridge be operational before the end of the year, Planmac Engineering says remediation work will be needed in the Spring of 2021. “Final restoration, asphalt paving,” Gravel explains.

When the project was announced in 2018, the town estimated it would cost $2.4 million. They got approximately $2.1 from the federal and provincial governments to help with the project.