Wellington Road 109 Bridges (North Wellington) Environmental Assessment

The County of Wellington has initiated a Schedule C Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) Study to consider options to address the poor condition of four bridges on Wellington Road 109 between Highway 6 and Sideroad 7, southeast of the community of Arthur.

Background

Within the Study Area, the Conestogo River is crossed by Wellington Road 109 at four locations.  The bridges at all four crossings are in an advanced state of deterioration with some elements identified as not meeting current standards.

The bridges were constructed between 1930 and 1934 by the Department of Highways Ontario (DHO), now Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Wellington County took over ownership of the bridges when this section of the former Highway 9 was downloaded to the County in 1998.  

In accordance with Ontario Regulation 472/10 under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act (Act), these bridges have been inspected every two years under the direction of a professional engineer using the Ministry’s Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM).

Based on the findings of the OSIM inspections, the Wellington County is planning for the improvements to these bridges.  Given the close proximity of the bridges to one another, the County is completing the planning and design of all four bridges under one Class EA Study.

What This Study Will Consider

The County recognizes that efforts to improve the bridges will come with some challenges during construction for residents, business owners and travellers, particularly if construction extends over multiple years.

Therefore, the County is considering many different options including: rehabilitation and or replacements.  The County will also consider the feasibility and cost, for comparison purposes, of a localized permanent realignment of Wellington Road 109 that would eliminate or reduce the multiple crossings and the need for future works.

In accordance with the requirements of the Schedule C Municipal Class EA process, the Study will define the problem, identify and evaluate alternative planning solutions and design concepts, recommend a design, assess potential impacts and identify mitigation measures associated with the preferred design.

The study will consider numerous aspects including but not limited to: construction staging and traffic delays during construction, local residences, business activity, cultural heritage and Indigenous values and protection of the natural environment.

Supporting technical components will inform the decision-making process and final Study recommendations, including:

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Geomorphology
  • Groundwater
  • Traffic
  • Structural Design

Upon completion of the study, the planning process and recommendations will be documented in an Environmental Study Report (ESR) and made available for public review.

Public, Agency and Indigenous Community Consultation

A key component of the Study will be consultation with interested stakeholders including residents and businesses, agencies, Indigenous communities and the general public.  The goal is to ensure that anyone with an interest in this Study has the opportunity to provide input and feedback. 

Two Public Information Centres (PIC) will be convened during the Study.  Given current provincial guidelines supporting physical distancing and postponing in-person public meetings, consultation and opportunities for public input will focus on web-based information packages with accommodations for alternative formats, as requested.

We anticipate the PIC #1 will occur in fall 2020 with an online information package that will present the background information; problems and opportunities; alternative planning solutions; the preferred planning solution and next steps.

PIC #2 is anticipated to occur in spring 2021 to present the design alternatives and preliminary preferred design as well as preliminary construction staging and traffic management preferences.

The planning process and final recommendations will be documented in an Environmental Study Report (ESR), to be made available for review and comment at the end of the project.

Notices will be distributed for the two PICs and the ESR. All materials will be available on the County website.  The County will provide alterative formats and accommodations, as requested. 

PIC1 Frequently Asked Questions

How long is construction of the four structures expected to last?

The duration of construction will depend on many factors. Using traditional construction methods, the replacement of all four bridges could take up to 2 to 3 years; however, during the next phase of this study, accelerated construction methods will be reviewed that could significantly reduce the traffic disruption and reduce the overall duration to as few as 3 years. In the next phase of the Class EA study, we will be identifying the preferred bridge designs, construction methods, and developing a preliminary construction staging plan all of which will give us a more definitive construction duration. Plans will continue to become more detailed through the design phase and preparation of the tender package, after the completion of the Class EA study

What will happen with traffic during construction?

The County appreciates that the bridge replacements will come with some challenges to road users, residents and business owners.  The County will consider a variety of strategies to optimize the construction staging and duration and minimize traffic impacts. For example:

  • Use of a temporary bridge to keep two lanes of traffic open adjacent to the construction zone for as much of the construction period as possible. The temporary bridge can be used at multiple sites in consecutive construction seasons.
  • Rapid bridge replacement’ techniques where the new bridge is constructed ‘offline’, while traffic is maintained on WR109, and then shifted into place during a short-term road closure/detour.
  • Additional traffic modeling to evaluate traffic impacts including maximum allowable queues / delays. The final traffic staging would be developed in a future detailed design phase to minimize traffic disruption and limit delays during peak time

Regardless of the strategy, the County will ensure regular and timely communication with area residents and businesses through the construction period.

How much will the project cost?

A preliminary cost estimate will be generated based on the final recommended designs and construction methods developed during the Class EA study.  The cost estimate will be documented in the Environmental Study Report.  For the purposes of the comparing alternative solutions (rehabilitation/replacement/new road alignment), a high-level cost of approximately $12M was generated for replacement, based on current knowledge and assumptions.

Where is the money coming from?

The planned replacement/rehabilitation of these structures has been included in the 10-year budget as part of the asset management plan for the past 10 years. In addition, the County has recently received funding for about $4.2 million from Canada Infrastructure Programme: Rural and Northern Stream.

Will the new bridges be wider than the existing?

A future road cross-section for the bridges has been proposed with 3.5 m travel lanes and 3 m shoulders. This will be confirmed in the next phase of the Class EA study.  The travel lane and shoulder width recommendations are consistent with design standards based on the posted speed, design speed and the vehicle/truck volumes.

Will Wellington County be reconstructing Wellington Road 109?

General reconstruction of Wellington Road 109 is beyond the scope of the Class EA study. The works being planned and designed in this Class EA study involve addressing the poor condition of the existing four structures with some associated road work at the bridge approaches. There are currently no other proposed projects identified within the study limits.  However, the County may undertake other improvements to WR109 in the future and the bridge replacements currently being planned do not preclude other future improvements.

PIC2 Frequently Asked Questions
 How is Wellington County intending on managing traffic during construction?
The County’s primary objective is to achieve a cost-conscious and efficient construction process that seeks to minimize disruption to road users.  The County is committed to maintaining two lanes of traffic at the most westerly bridge, given the proximity to the intersection at Highway 6. 

For the remaining structures, at least one lane of traffic will be maintained at all times. Where traffic is one lane, travel in alternating directions will be controlled by with temporary traffic signals. The preliminary approaches with local detour/lane arrangements are reviewed in subsequent PIC 2 displays.

The traffic management plan will continue to be developed through detailed design and will be finalized by the contractor. 

 Why not close WR109 to allow for a faster construction process?
The County is unlikely to close WR109 for long periods of time because access needs to be maintained for residences, farm operations and business access.

Why is the WR109 intersection at Highway 6 not being addressed in this study?  

Addressing the condition of the four structures is a matter of urgency for Wellington County, not only because the bridges are nearing the end of their design life but also because the County has secured federal construction funding, to be utilized by 2025.

Broader studies to look at travel demand, traffic congestion and operations at the Highway 6 intersection and in the Arthur area generally (e.g. bypass), are more complex with greater implications to socio-economic, natural and cultural environments, and would involve MTO as a co-proponent.  Therefore, it is likely that this type of study would be on a longer timeframe.  MTO program priorities do not currently include short or long-term planning on Highway 6 at Arthur, although priorities are reviewed annually. 

 Why is the WR109 bypass option no longer being considered?
The bypass / road realignment option only resulted in a net reduction of two watercourse crossings since the realignment would require one new watercourse crossing and two of the existing crossings on WR109 would need to remain, with the bridges being replaced, for continued residential and business access.  The initial capital costs for the bypass option were substantially higher than the bridge replacements and there were no lifecycle cost savings to be realized.

Available Documentation

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns at any time during the study, or wish to be placed on the study mailing list to receive study notices directly, please contact either of the project team members below:

Joe de Koning, P.Eng.
Manager of Roads
County of Wellington
74 Woolwich Street
Guelph ON N1H 3T9
519.837.2601 x 2270
joedk@wellington.ca

William Van Ruyven, P.Eng.
Consultant Project Engineer
WSP Canada Group Limited
610 Chartwell Road, Suite 300
Oakville ON L6J 4A5
905.823.8500
william.vanruyven@wsp.com

How is Wellington County intending on managing traffic during construction?

© 2021 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909