Preferred option to replace aging Manitoulin Island swing bridge is a new, two-lane structure
SUDBURY -- The iconic swing bridge in Little Current on Manitoulin Island is going to be replaced with a structure similar in design.
Over the last four years, Stantec Consulting Ltd. and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) have studied how to replace the structure, which is nearing the end of its service life.
“It seems ironic that we will have a spare swing bridge when this is all over,” said Alan MacNevin, mayor of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands.
The current bridge provides the only land access to Manitoulin Island. It carries both vehicles and pedestrian traffic across a narrow channel separating Manitoulin Island from Goat Island. It sits 17 ½ feet above the water and provides a 160-foot opening on either side of the central pier for water passage.
The bridge swings open for boat traffic for the first 15 minutes of each daylight hour during the summer.
On Tuesday, the province announced the results of online surveys that found the preferred replacement would be a two-lane swing bridge located west of the existing structure. It was preferred by 74 per cent of responders, out of 10 options, taking into account the environmental, community and engineering impacts.
Other options included putting in a car ferry, building a tunnel, installing a movable bridge or replacing it with a fixed bridge. No cost estimates for the new bridge were released.
“I think that they have looked at it in a well balanced way and I think at least with the two lanes, I think a lot of people will see that as a huge improvement," MacNevin said.
"I don’t think that we will ever be able to please everyone because some people wanted a tunnel and others wanted an overhead bridge so they didn’t ever have to slow down when they came or left the island. I think this will fit with what we had before and still maintain the sort of cultural attraction of that old swing bridge."
Factors in favour of a new two-lane bridge include lower construction costs, no change to access to the Little Current business areas and the lowest impact on wildlife.
The MTO has identified the existing bridge as a provincial heritage property. Longer term, two options are being considered: relocation of the existing bridge for continued use or just have it removed and replaced.
MTO will be conducting an environmental study before a detailed design and construction can begin.
The public information centre results are available for review here.
Feedback can be submitted until April 30 either on the forms provided in the website, or by emailing the study team directly at ProjectTeam@swingbridgestudy.ca.