Ward to Downtown Bridges and how they affect the Trans Canada Trail
The proposed Ward to Downtown multi-use bridge needs to be extended
There are approved plans to build a multi-use bridge from the Ward to Downtown, next to the Guelph Junction Railway bridge, just west of the old distillery. Tender for this work could be issued soon, but there may be reason to hit the pause button in order to change the project slightly by extending the new bridge so the Trans Canada Trail may pass underneath it and eventually the Guelph Junction Railway, bridge, the Alan’s Dam Bridge, and Macdonell St. bridges in the future.
After the Ward to Downtown multi-use bridge, the Guelph Junction Rail bridge need to be extended
Eventually most of the bridges on the Speed within the city limits will have to be replaced, The Eramosa Road bridge was replaced in 2009 and Council has already instructed staff to develop an underpass at Speedvale Ave. when that bridge is rebuilt in 2023, but if the new Ward to Downtown bridge isn’t built long enough to allow the Trans Canada Trail to pass underneath it, the TC trail under the bridges project could be killed. All the pieces of the puzzle must be done in the correct order and the extension of the Ward to downtown bridge is the first that needs to be done. The extension of the Guelph Junction Rail bridge, when it is time for it to be replaced is the second.
Allowing a trail to pass underneath will have to be argued for each bridge in turn. The Speedvale Ave. bridge has been put out to tender with provision for an underpass. After the Ward to Downtown bridge is built, the next to be rebuilt is the Macdonell Street bridge in 2025. The Alan’s Mill bridge (currently closed – under the Metrolinx/GEXR bridge) beside it will need to be restored or removed the same year. The trail can pass under these two bridges without extending them, but it can only pass underneath the Alan’s Mill bridge if Alan’s Dam is replaced further upstream.
The Guelph Junction Railway bridge is also scheduled to be replaced soon. Both the Ward to Downtown and the GJR bridges will need to be lengthened to accommodate a trail underneath, which will be needed to maintain Trans Canada Trail connectivity. An underpass can be hung from the bottom of the existing Eramosa Rd. bridge.
Allan’s dam may have to be moved
The location of Alan’s Dam is currently causing problems as hydrostatic water pressure behind the dam is causing structural problems with the erosion of the base of the stone piers of the Metrolinx/GEXR rail bridge. These piers were recently refurbished and the deck replaced with a life expectancy of 50 years. If the water pressure caused by the dam were removed the life expectancy of the piers might be extended to about 100 years.
Moving the dam upstream will improve the visual interest of the area
Allan’s Dam (which is in poor condition) could be replaced by a new dam upstream from the Macdonell bridge. Besides extending the life of the existing Metrolinx/GEXR bridge, a dam in this new location would add visual interest to the area by making the waterfall visible from the Macdonell St. bridge, whereas now it is mostly hidden.
In order for the Trans Canada Trail to pass this point, either the dam must move upstream slightly or be removed. Lastly there is very low clearance between the existing dam and the bridge. This low clearance is a flood hazard as extra high water, ice or debris could block the narrow gap between the top of the dam and bottom of the bridge.