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Skyway Bridge project picks preferred option

– Photo courtesy Public Information Display www.hwy49quinteskyway.ca

A decision on the preferred option for rehabilitation of the Quinte Skyway Bridge connecting the County to Tyendinaga is expected soon as public consultation meetings wrap up in Picton Tuesday and on the Mohawk Territory Wednesday.

Concerns expressed over the two consultations to date include support for single lane traffic; inconveniences to commuters and emergency services.

In a presentation to council in March, the preferred option to reconstruct the 50-year-old bridge was revealed as a $76 million project over five years. The deck is to be replaced and the bridge also does not meet current design standards for shoulder width and traffic barriers. Costs are borne by the province.

Proposed are partial length closures with alternating traffic in multiple stages for 1/5th lengths of the bridge. Traffic would be managed by signals at the shorter work zones.

The preferred alternative is more expensive and takes two-to-three years longer to construct but reports indicate it results in the shortest traffic delays and lowest impact to emergency services, ability for two-lane winter operation; lesser impact on local residents and businesses and does not require improvements to the existing infrastructure. It was determined the existing piers are in good condition and do not require replacement.

A new bridge was considered, but taken off the list as its cost was estimated to be twice as expensive at $140 million.

Ministry of Transportation traffic studies show average traffic is about 5,200 vehicles per day, up to 6,200 during the summer.

There would be some restrictions in place for fishing and navigation around the active work zone. Appropriate locations for a barge launch and laydown area are being reviewed.

Next steps are to incorporate feedback from the public meetings, meet with agencies to discuss impacts and proposed mitigation plans; finalize preliminary design and prepare a Transportation Environmental Study Report for a 30-day public review period.

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