Guelph, ON, November 19, 2015—The City of Guelph is presenting Council with a report on the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) for improvements to Niska Road, including the bridge over the Speed River. The EA report will be shared in a special Council meeting at City Hall on Thursday, December 3 at 6 p.m.
“At this point the EA has been completed and staff are presenting the results to Council with the preferred options identified through the EA process,” noted Don Kudo, Deputy City Engineer. “Throughout this lengthy process, the consultants heard from many stakeholders—from the local neighbourhood to neighbouring townships—and are recommending an option that meets the safety and transportation needs of the city.”
Environmental assessments evaluate options using multiple criteria including the natural environment, social, cultural and technical factors, and financial impacts. The overall goal of the Niska Road study was to strike a balance between public safety, community needs and impacts to the natural environment. The evaluation for the Niska Road study indicates the preferred options are to:
- reconstruct the existing two lane collector road with a two lane collector road urban cross section including shared bicycle lanes and sidewalk on the north side;
- replace the existing Bailey bridge with a new, two–lane Pony Truss bridge; and
- reconstruct the intersection of Downey Road and Niska Road with traffic lights.
Additional design considerations include:
- implementing traffic calming measures on Niska Road from Downey Road to the city limit;
- considering on–street parking near a potential canoe launch area; and
- mitigating viewscape and tree impacts through minimal changes to road profile and by minimizing the urban road cross section.
“The intention of the EA recommendations is to complete the road and bridge improvements with as little change to the area as possible, including the option of replicating the look of the original bridge in the design of the new bridge,” noted Kudo. “The recommendations retain existing trees and other natural features as they are wherever possible so the view along the road and bridge are preserved.”
If Council choses to not approve the EA recommendations, City staff have provided comment on the option of removing the bridge.
The estimated cost to implement the recommended improvements is $5,280,000. A total of $2,950,000 is included in the 2016 Capital Budget and Forecast. This budget was presented to Council on October 28, and will be deliberated on December 9. The remaining estimated funds will be requested in future budgets.
The EA was initiated in 2013 to evaluate needed improvements to the road and bridge to meet current standards, and to address the deterioration and increasing maintenance costs of the bridge. The bridge underwent repairs in late April to keep it in service while the City continued the environmental assessment for a permanent solution.
For more information about the Niska Road EA and recommended improvements to the bridge and road, visit guelph.ca/niskaroad.
Ken VanderWal P.Eng, Project Engineer
519-822-1260 extension 2319