Saturday, March 04, 2006

Valley Inn Road renovation

Kaz Novak, the Hamilton Spectator
This military-style Bailey bridge is aging
and may be replaced by a pedestrian bridge that
would link Hamilton and Burlington waterfront trail.

City officials eye pedestrian route to replace decaying Bailey bridge

By Eric McGuinness, The Hamilton Spectator (Mar 4, 2006)

This may be the last year to delight kids big and small by driving across the clattering timber deck of the Valley Inn Road bridge.

Hamilton officials want to silence the bay area's noisiest bridge, tear it out, close the roads on either side and put in a span just for cyclists and pedestrians.

Although it was once the main route between Dundas and Toronto, Valley Inn Road and its landmark bumpy bridge over Grindstone Creek now carry only 1,000 cars and small trucks a day.

Users are mainly sightseers, birdwatchers, fishers, kayakers and people going to and from the Royal Botanical Gardens' Laking Garden, Woodland Cemetery and Easterbrook's, locally famous for its foot-long hot dogs.

The new bridge would become part of a waterfront trail link between Hamilton and Burlington, which meet at that point.

The staff recommendation goes to Hamilton's public works, infrastructure and environment committee Monday. If the committee and council go along, an environmental assessment report on the project will be posted for public review for 30 days.

The present structure is a Bailey bridge, a military-style portable structure installed after the previous bridge collapsed beneath a heavy truck in 1964. It was rented from the province and was supposed to be temporary, but the city eventually bought it for $1 and continues to maintain it.

Engineers say the steel frame is corroding, underpinnings at either end are eroding and deck timbers the size of railway ties are decaying. They say the whole thing will last only three to five more years.

The environmental assessment, which included two public meetings, concludes that a new vehicular bridge would be too expensive and too damaging to the natural area at the creek mouth, described as "a sanctuary for both wildlife and humans wishing to escape the surrounding urban areas."

It's also the site of a barrier of Christmas trees built by the Royal Botanical Gardens to keep large carp from Hamilton Harbour out of a pike spawning area in Sunfish Pond upstream.

Sean Dillon, an Aldershot resident who was walking past a gaggle of geese, many ducks and a lone swan in the pond yesterday, said he welcomed the replacement plan.

"I think it would be a good idea as long as there's some way to cross here. I would not want to see it where we couldn't walk over."

Mike Zacjenko, organizer of the historic Around the Bay Road Race -- which will be run March 26 this year -- said runners would be fine with a three-metre-wide pedestrian bridge.

Werner Plessl, executive director of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, which wants to extend Hamilton's Waterfront Trail across the High-Level Bridge and down Valley Inn Road to Burlington, said the new bridge would accommodate service vehicles and police cars.

But eight of 31 people who commented at the first public open house last June said they wanted to keep the road open to all drivers.

Planners say Valley Inn Road, named for a hotel that burned down in 1928, would dead end on the Hamilton side on high ground between York Boulevard and the CN Rail bridge. A turnaround and small parking lot would be built.

There are two options for the Burlington side.

The first is to close Spring Gardens Road above the creek valley and allow only limited vehicle access down toward the bridge and the one private home there.

The second would add a water-level parking lot at the bridge's east end and allow two-way traffic up and down the hill.

For further information, check Monday's public works committee agenda on the city website,, or phone the city call centre at 905-546-CITY (2489).

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