Dysart et al has purchased a new 60-foot temporary overpass to be installed over the Koshlong Lake Road bridge, which will remove weight limitations imposed in December – although mayor Murray Fearrey has warned it could take the municipality around a month to install it.

The issue was debated during a Jan. 24 council meeting, where Frances Hill and her husband, Ken, spoke of the difficulties they and many neighbours have had navigating the township’s new bylaw in recent weeks.

On Dec. 13, Dysart’s director of public works, Rob Camelon, asked that council approve new legislation limiting the weight of vehicles crossing the bridge. Engineering firm Tulloch completed a study of the 60-year-old bridge last fall that found it was not up to modern safety standards and needed replacing.

“The year of construction of the structure was 1960, therefore Tulloch has assumed it was not originally designed for current truck loadings and therefore [recommends] a [new] load posting for the bridge, given its age and conditions,” the study reads.

As a temporary measure, the township decided to lower the allowable weight limit to 16 tons for single-unit vehicles, 29 tons for two-unit vehicles and 42 tons for three-unit vehicles for the next five years.

This has caused a major problem for the Hills, who were overseeing construction of a new home on Koshlong Lake.

“The new load limits have put our project in some jeopardy… the bridge is the only access point to our property, and now our contractors are unable to get there,” Frances told The Highlander. “We’re out thousands of dollars and don’t know when we’ll be able to finish our home.”

She told council that, after surveying other properties in the area, these new restrictions were impacting at least 147 residences in Dysart and Highlands East.

Koshlong Lake Association wants long-term solution

“It’s more than just construction – I’m worried about things like power outages, house fires, and ice storms… because of these new weight limits, many fire and utility trucks won’t be able to cross the bridge. Many people may not be able to get propane needed to heat their buildings, or have their holding and septic tanks pumped,” Ken said.

Rob Camelon, Dysart’s public works director, said the township had approved an exemption that would allow the township’s fire department to cross the bridge with pumper trucks in the event of an emergency. He also said he’s working on a proposal to replace the bridge in 2024.

The Hills say they were not informed of the change by the township, instead learning via their contractor who said he would have to cease work on their property.

Bridge closure ‘unacceptable’

Laurie Bruce said this issue was a major concern for many members of the Koshlong Lake Association. She called on council to find a solution, noting it was unacceptable to simply limit the weight of vehicles crossing the bridge for the next several years. She proposed several short-term solutions, including having the bridge redesignated as a one-lane thoroughfare.

“Could the permitted weight be raised then? If yes, there is a solution that could provide immediate relief [to residents] with minimal cost to Dysart township,” Bruce said.

Fearrey told both Bruce and Hill that council was “taking this issue seriously,” but noted there was no quick fix. He said the township is obliged to follow the recommendations outlined by Tulloch for liability purposes.

“I think they’re taking the safe route, but we can’t go against the engineer’s report,” Fearrey said. “Bear with us here, we will get you an answer and will work as fast as we can to bring a solution.”

Later in the meeting, CAO Tamara Wilbee read a motion coming out of closed session stating the township would be purchasing a temporary bridge for $188,533 plus HST. While no information was given relating to the bridge, where it was coming from, or when it would be installed, Fearrey told The Highlander he expected it would be a month before it arrived and is set up.

Dysart et al has come up with a temporary solution to remove weight limitations on the Koshlong Lake Road bridge. Dysart et al.