Stu Campaigne, Local Journalism Initiative
Mattawa residents and travellers along Highway 533 still face a few more months of alternating one-lane traffic on the Pont Mauril Belanger Bridge, but officials say the finish line is in sight.
Town of Mattawa interim CAO Francine Desormeau confirms the final stage of the project to repair the essential infrastructure damaged by the spring 2019 flooding of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers will get underway within one week, with a “substantial completion date of Nov. 13.”
The bridge connects Mattawa’s downtown to Highway 533, was renamed in honour of the late Mauril Belanger, former area MP, and spans the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers.
In late July, after a tender process, Mattawa council awarded the reconstruction project to MTM-2 Contracting Inc. of Milton, Ont., for $1.10 million (plus HST). It was the lowest of two bids.
In May, council awarded a survey contract via Dillon Consulting to monitor the bridge for six to 12 weeks and the firm also reviewed both tenders and provided comments to council.
What should Mattawa residents expect from now until fall?
The project “is anticipated to have very limited bridge closures during construction. The contractor is to schedule operations in such a manner as to cause the least interference to vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” says Desormeau.
Once construction begins, the bridge will remain at one lane and alternating traffic lights will remain in place during construction. Sufficient warning to the public and emergency personnel will be provided if the need arises to completely close the bridge.
Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer says restoring this important infrastructure link safely and to full capacity in Mattawa is a top priority. Residents of the towns on the north side of the bridge face a much longer trip to amenities in North Bay when it is closed as it is the only way across the river by vehicle.
Backer says the trip is “a 55-kilometre detour if you had to go to the hospital in North Bay by (highways) 533 and 63.”
Since the flooding, transport lanes also have been disrupted during periods when no traffic was permitted on the bridge for industries such as Rayonnier, in Temiscaming, Que.
The cost of the repairs are being funded at 90 per cent through the Ministry of Transportation Connecting Links funding to an upset limit of $1.28 million, says Desormeau. Total eligible funding is $1.42 million, which includes the municipality’s 10 per cent share of $143,362.24.
Work continues to repair and restore other amenities and infrastructure damaged by the flooding in 2019. On the advice of J2pg Consultants Inc., Mattawa council recently approved $28,000 for labour and materials to Galcon Marine Ltd. to restore the damaged marina docks anchorage system, as part of the second stage of waterfront marina reconstruction. And, preliminary discussions have taken place with J2pg for the reconstruction of Gorman Street, also badly damaged by the flooding.
Stu Campaigne is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday.ca. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada