BARRY’S BAY – Local cottagers are calling the replacement of a small yet controversial wooden bridge bittersweet.
Crews from the County of Renfrew were at Dam Lake on September 19, replacing the bridge that generated many headlines in the past few years.
It has been around for as long as residents can recall. But at 6:00 a.m. that morning, Martin Recoskie Road was closed to traffic and the wooden bridge was removed and replaced with a steel one.
Albina Polatynski, 85, has been coming to her cottage on Dam Lake Road since 1955. While representatives at the County of Renfrew do not know how old the bridge is, Polatynski said it has been there for as long as she can remember.
“It’s not going to be the same now,” she said, watching the bridge replacement from her property.
Balancing her time between Toronto and the cottage, Polatynski delved into the area’s history. She wondered how hard it must have been to create such wooden structures that stood the test of time.
“The workers didn’t have much education, but look at what they were able to do,” she said pointing to the old round logs now sitting on a truck bed.
Other residents, including Isabelle Lesniewski, Bev Florio, Ewa Blaszyk and Katherine Morin gathered at the boat launch to watch the huge crane lower a steel deck into place.
The women all admitted that the old bridge was beautiful and added both character and charm to the area. Before the new bridge was in place, they wondered how the new one would fit in.
But they agreed safety comes first.
“It’s always good to trade something in for a newer model,” Katherine Morin joked with her friends. “It actually doesn’t look that bad.”
As the new bridge was being lowered, the women were glad some aspects of the bridge remained untouched, like the old stones at the base of the structure.
“The replacement strategy included preserving the existing stone work as much as possible, and minimizing any disturbance to the watercourse and lake,” Manager of Infrastructure at the County of Renfrew, Michael Pinet said.
The bridge will have a steel beam guardrail on the bridge deck and three cable guide rails on the approaches. Pinet explained the steel beam will be constructed from “nearly new” salvaged material from other bridge projects.
Wood from the original deck will not go to waste, he ensured.
“The original plan for the bridge was to dispose of it,” Pinet said. “Before proceeding, we consulted with several of the cottage owners, some of whom expressed an interest in the deck materials and the existing wood guiderails. As a result, the existing bridge deck was relocated to a neighboring property for their reuse.”
See more in the September 25, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.