Bridge Location: County Highway 59, South Walsingham - 1.4 km S of County Road 42. The only safe access and egress into Long Point for property owners, tourists, businesses and emergency services.
Timeline of Events Leading to Bridge Failure:
1959 - Bridge was built
1997 - Year of last rehabilition
June 17, 2014 - OSIM Ontario Structure Inspection completed
July 5, 2016 - Ontario Structure Inspection completed by G. Douglas Vallee Limited an Engineering Consultant from Simcoe, ON. Recommending "Major rehab or replace in 1-5 years." A breakdown of costs and estimate for the replacement of the bridge is given at $2,004,500. Pg. 2-4.
2017 Year End - Final Norfolk County Capital Budget Forecast 2018 - 2027 - 5531719 2024 Structure 985901 - Long Point Causeway Bridge allocated at $6,500,000 in the year 2024 (pg. 2)
April, 2018 - The Long Point Causeway Bridge was inspected by G. Douglass Vallee Limited of Simcoe.
May 14, 2018 - A Norfolk pothole-repair crew brought the situation to the attention of county management May 14. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. The causeway is the only road into Long Point and the Victoria Day holiday weekend – with its influx of cottagers – was set to begin May 18. - Simcoe Reformer Article July 30, 2018
May 15, 2018 - Long Point Causeway Bridge Suffers Partial Deck Failure, Simcoe Reformer - “We have a partial failure of the bridge deck on the Long Point Causeway. We have barricades on the way to reduce the bridge to one lane. They will be up before sunset,” Lee Robinson, Norfolk’s general manager of public works, said at the Norfolk County Council meeting on Tuesday. Speed limit has also been reduced to 30 km/h. “At this point the engineer is not recommending closure,” Robinson said.
May 16, 2018 - Long Point Ratepayers' Association Media Release: During a routine inspection, it was determined that there was a localized area where the wooden bridge deck has been compromised. Engineers were immediately contacted to provide recommendations for remedial action. Arrangements have been made to ensure there is appropriate Fire Department and EMS coverage during this lane reduction. The bridge is restricted to personal vehicles (Class G license) as per Highway Traffic Act. “…any motor vehicle not exceeding 11,000 kilograms gross weight and any combination of a motor vehicle not exceeding a total gross weight of 11,000 kilograms and towed vehicles where the towed vehicles do not exceed a total gross weight of 4,600 kilograms…”
May 17, 2018 - Norfolk County Media Release: "The Long Point Causeway Bridge was inspected by G. Douglass Vallee Limited of Simcoe, in April, 2018. At that time no immediate structural compromises or deficiencies were found. It is unknown whether the severe weather experienced in the month of April may have contributed to the deterioration of the structure".
Norfolk public works director Lee Robinson broke the news to Norfolk council Tuesday. The bridge in question spans a waterway near George Lane that connects the Big Creek Marsh with Long Point Bay. Robinson said the wooden piers supporting the bridge appear to be fine but the deck badly deteriorated over the winter. An engineer has inspected the situation and has recommended that traffic on the bridge be reduced to a single lane.
If the bridge failed, Norfolk County would have no way of getting emergency services in and out of Long Point by road. In her email, Robinson said Norfolk Fire & Rescue moved firefighting equipment into Long Point Tuesday “just in case.”
LPRA president Eric Gunnell says his membership is not impressed with the situation. Long Point cottagers pay some of the highest property taxes in Norfolk but feel neglected and underserviced. Gunnell is surprised bridge repairs were scheduled six years into the future when the structure needs attention now. “For them to defer it, they had to have some engineering to justify that,” Gunnell said Wednesday. “It’s a shock that the bridge is no longer acceptable.
May 18, 2018 - Damaged Bridge Spells Trouble for Long Point, London Free Press - Earlier this week engineers determined the Long Point Causeway Bridge had been structurally compromised, prompting a further inspection that revealed a five-metre span of the southbound lane had significantly deteriorated.
May 21, 2018 - Causeway Bridge Down to One Lane, Simcoe Reformer - The county said that a 16-foot horizontal portion of the bridge’s southbound lane “has experienced significant deterioration.” “This will have the unfortunate effect of functionally preventing water haulers, tractor trailers, sewage haulers, garbage trucks, full-size school busses and similar vehicles from utilizing the bridge until a medium-term solution can be put in place,” the county release said.
As a precautionary measure, Norfolk Fire and Rescue has stationed three fire vehicles in Long Point. Norfolk ambulances weigh less than 11 tonnes and are unaffected by restrictions. In the release, Norfolk public works said there was no evidence of deck failure when an engineering inspection was conducted in April. The county suspects severe weather this spring may have accelerated the bridge’s decline.
Any sort of bridge, culvert or road-bed failure on the 3.2-kilometre causeway is a problem because it is the only road in and out of Long Point. Norfolk has plans this summer to rebuild the causeway but the bridge wasn’t slated for repairs until 2024.
May 29, 2018 - Temporary fix approved - Long Point bridge support will cost $300G, Simcoe Reformer - By the end of June, Norfolk County hopes to fit the bridge near George Lane with a custom steel structure that will take over the speed and load bearing function of the old bridge. Luke said the county will get a few years use out of the temporary structure before proceeding to a full replacement.
June 14, 2018 - Norfolk County Media Release Long Point Causeway Bridge Update and Furniture and Appliance Pickup Update - Norfolk County is pleased to announce that works are under way on the interim solution for the Long Point Causeway Bridge. Once the work is completed, the weight restriction will be removed and the reduced speed will remain in place. It is anticipated that the weight restriction will be able to be removed next week.
June 22, 2018 - Norfolk County Media Release Long Point Causeway Bridge Update - Work is ongoing on the Long Point Causeway Bridge. Effective Friday June 22, 2018 at 4:00 pm, Norfolk County will be removing the load restriction from the Long Point Causeway Bridge. The bridge will remain under a reduced speed limit. Larger vehicles such as septic haulers, water haulers, fuel trucks, construction vehicles, etc. may resume normal operations. Work on the temporary solution will continue and both lanes will be opened as soon as practical (anticipated to be in the next three weeks).
June 29, 2018 - Norfolk Staff Lauded for Bridge Solution, Simcoe Reformer - Norfolk CAO David Cribbs called the process an “extraordinary story” and said that Robinson would likely be asked to speak about it to other municipalities in the future “We bridged over top of another bridge in a month,” he began. “There will be a lot of other municipalities with their jaws down.
June 29, 2018 - Haydt wants the Long Point Causeway Bridge fixed immediately: Says current solution is not good enough. Currently, a rig mat solution is in place, both lanes are open, and weight restrictions have been lifted, but there is still a speed reduction and speed bumps in place. Ward 1 Councillor Haydt does not want to wait up to three years for the bridge to be fully repaired, and he feels it should be fixed immediately. Haydt feels the only entrance into town needs to be in better shape, and this current solution won’t last. He wants to see the bridge fixed by this fall. His motion will be heard July 9th. Norfolk Today Article
B i) Councillor Haydt Motion - Long Point Causeway 7. (Haydt/Geysens)
WHEREAS Norfolk County has initiated the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for the rehabilitation of the Long Point Causeway, from Lakeshore Road to Erie Blvd, as well as the replacement of the Long Point Causeway Bridge over Big Creek;
AND WHEREAS this study is being undertaken to address deteriorating road and bridge conditions as well as transportation needs along the Causeway;
AND WHEREAS the Causeway is the only access/egress road to all of Long Point, built in 1959 and rehabilitated in 1997, with an Average Annual Daily Traffic Count of 3739;
AND WHEREAS the 2016 Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM) being used for the bridge inspections found the Long Point Causeway Bridge, Site Number 985901, to have major rehabilitation or replacement done in 1-5 years and several segments needing urgent maintenance;
AND WHEREAS in the 2018 Capital Budget, Staff recommended pushing the Long Point Causeway Bridge to the 2024 Capital Budget, despite the inspection results;
AND WHEREAS Norfolk County’s Asset Management Plan recognizes a deficiency of $2,700,000 annually for bridge and culvert capital funding needs so that the bridge rehabilitation will be entirely debt funded over 50 years;
AND WHEREAS in May 2018, a portion of the bridge suffered structural compromise, which resulted in a speed and weight reduction, having had a detrimental effect on business, local residents and tourists alike;
AND WHEREAS interim measures have been taken to ensure safe passage at a great cost and this issue is an urgent one requiring further response from the municipality.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, THAT it is in the County’s best interest to advance the entire bridge repair during the 2018-2019 construction year to correspond with the Causeway reconstruction project as per the Class EA, to receive favourable pricing during the tender process;
AND THAT through advancing this motion and related work it is hoped that travelers using the bridge will feel safe again.
July 11, 2018 - Lee Robinson, Public Works Manager officially resigns due to family matters, "The job was no longer working for my family".
Norfolk CAO David Cribbs stated, "during her time with Norfolk County Ms. Robinson was a dedicated civil servant, whose professional highlights included successfully leading the pubic works division through many significant endeavours, including but not limited to a restructuring of the division, a reduction in the value and volume of outstanding construction/remediation projects, an increase in contract efficiency that saved millions of dollars and, most recently, providing leadership during the Long Point Causeway Bridge incident". - Simcoe Reformer Article July 17, 2018
July 12, 2018 - Bridge Project Accelerated, Simcoe Reformer - The bridge near George Lane wasn’t scheduled for replacement until 2024. However, on Tuesday, Norfolk council voted to replace the bridge as the last phase of the upcoming road project. The overall project will not be cheap. The widening and resurfacing is expected to cost about $3.5 million. A new bridge could cost as much as $6.5 million. “It will be $11 million if we wait till 2024,” Haydt said. “It’ll cost more down the road. “We need to finish the bridge. It was built in 1959. The residents of Long Point pay $4 million a year in taxes. And what do they get? They’ve got $2 million for Erie Boulevard since I’ve been here. The causeway is the only way in and out of Long Point.” Long Point Rate Payers' representative noted that nearly 10,000 vehicles pass over the causeway on a busy day. He too believes the cost of replacing the bridge will be substantially more if the county waits till 2024.
July 26, 2018 - Toby Barrett MPP letter to Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks regarding the Long Point Causeway Bridge and Road Reconstruction. Attached a request from Norfolk County Council for the province to contribute to the reconstructions of the Long Point Causeway roadway and bridge, as this is the only access route to the Long Point Provincial Park.
Norfolk County has set the record straight on problems with a bridge on the Long Point Causeway. In public statements, Norfolk staff have suggested that the Simcoe engineering firm G. Douglas Vallee Ltd. inspected the bridge near George Lane in April and found nothing wrong with it. In fact, engineers with Vallee Ltd. noted several defects and flagged the bridge for re-inspection.
“This has been eating at my conscience,” Mayor Charlie Luke said Monday. “I was really struggling with the fact that a reputable engineer who has done good work for the county had this doubt cast on him. Many were surprised to hear that an engineering firm responsible for inspecting county bridges allegedly missed significant signs of deterioration. Erroneous statements about the April inspection were shared with both council and the public.
Norfolk CAO David Cribbs investigated after questions were raised about this chain of events. In a recent memorandum to council, Cribbs noted that an engineering inspection in 2016 identified the need for future repairs to the causeway bridge.
“The bridge was also inspected in April of 2018,” the memo adds. “This time more serious concerns were identified, although not so serious that any immediate closure, lane reduction or weight limit was felt to be necessary at the time of inspection. “The engineering consultant – G. Douglas Vallee Limited – had plans to return later in the year to conduct a more thorough inspection. “The structural problems on the southbound lanes developed after the initial inspection but prior to the more thorough inspection being conducted. “Accordingly, the bridge was inspected and did not `fail’ its initial inspection. However, it was inaccurate for the county to imply that the bridge had been given a clean bill of health.” On Monday, John Vallee of G. Douglas Vallee Ltd. said Cribbs’ memo was suficient and that there was nothing to add.
On Monday, Mayor Luke said Robinson’s departure is unrelated to the causeway bridge situation.
August 13, 2018 - Three public works projects delayed - Simcoe Reformer
In his note, Baird cited two other projects that were scheduled for 2018 but which will have to wait till next year.
The Long Point Causeway between Port Rowan and Long Point was supposed to be rebuilt this year. However, Baird said an archeological survey took longer than expected. Plans are to rebuild the 3.2-kilometre causeway next year and get to work installing a new bridge over the channel, near George Lane. Plans are to have the new bridge finished in 2020.
Norfolk County and their consultant have completed a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment for the reconstruction of the Long Point Causeway, from Lakeshore Road to Erie Boulevard, including the replacement of the Long Point Causeway Bridge. The study looks to address the deteriorating road and bridge conditions and transportation needs. The recommendations out of this process includes reconstructing the road to two lanes with paved and gravel shoulders. It is also recommends that the bridge gets replaced with a new multi-span bridge to the west of the existing bridge. The County intends to proceed with the design and construction of the project as detailed in the report.
September 11, 2018 - Long Point Causeway and Bridge Class Environmental Assessment and Repair Status
This Report is to provide Council with an update on the incurred expenses related to the Long Point Causeway Bridge emergency repair, and to outline the status of the Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) for the bridge replacement and the resurfacing of the Causeway.
September 12, 2018 - Repairs to the Long Point Causeway will cost roughly $10-million
The projected cost for the road reconstruction and resurfacing is $3.75 million with the replacement of the bridge coming in at $6.7 million.