The swing bridge over the Rideau Canal at Burritt’s Rapids will be closed for renovations from the first week in October, until possibly May of 2018. The work on the Canal’s oldest bridge is part of a major renovation project undertaken by Parks Canada along the entire length of the Rideau Canal system, and the Burritt’s Rapids bridge and stone work will cost around $1.3 million.

According to Parks Canada, “The intent of this project is to rehabilitate the Burritts Rapids Swing Bridge…Structural steel repairs will be required, the bridge will be sandblasted and repainted and the timber bridge deck will be replaced. Repairs will also be required on the masonry abutments and pivot pier for the bridge”.

The bridge was built in 1897, replacing an older wooden swing bridge that had stood since the 1850’s, but the first bridge over the Canal spanned this section back in the 1820’s. It is a valuable heritage asset for North Grenville, and the scope of the work planned is extensive. It involves “the removal and replacement of the wood deck, steel floor beams, the steel railway ties that makeup the counterweight, truss members identified for replacement, the wooden pedestrian railing, and the north load rail. The scope also includes the complete refurbishment of mechanical components, the complete repointing of the canal wall (above and below water), and the sand-blasting and painting of the entire swing bridge”. Those who use the bridge regularly are very aware of the dilapidated state of the wood deck on the bridge, and can only look forward to having it repaired and levelled.

It was, at first, planned to remove the bridge entirely and do the renovation work at another site, but it was realised that this would have implications for its heritage status. Therefore, the bridge will be opened and covered with a tent, for the duration of the project. The road will, naturally, be closed while the work continues, with the finishing date expected to be on or before May 30, 2018. There will, however, be a temporary pedestrian bridge put in place.

With such a lengthy closure in view, residents will be happy indeed that the nearby Andrewsville Bridge was saved from destruction through the action of friends and neighbours. It, and the bridges at Merrickville and Beckett’s Landing (Highway 16/Prince of Wales) will have to be used by vehicles wishing to cross from Ottawa into North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford for the next eight months.

This will not be the only renovation work carried out by Parks Canada in the area. Part of the Rideau System Project includes restoration work at Lock 17, and at the Burritt’s Rapids Earth Dam, which serves as a water control structure. This project will include assessment of the earth dams located at the site and their rehabilitation. The intent of the project is to improve the condition of the dams while maintaining their use as a walking trail for the community. This project will ensure the long term viability and engineering function of the earth dams. The work at Lock 17 will include stone replacement, stone repair, repointing and grouting, designed to extend the life of the locks.

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