Commanda bridge finally reopened; Rideau River bridge also won’t be year-round

The Chief William Commanda bridge was again fenced off to users as of November 21, 2023 because of the city's concerns re plowing and salt. (Alayne McGregor/The BUZZ)
The Chief William Commanda bridge was again fenced off to users as of November 21, 2023 because of the city’s concerns re plowing and salt. (Alayne McGregor/The BUZZ)

Alayne McGregor

UPDATE: The Chief William Commanda Bridge was reopened to pedestrians and cyclists on Monday, March 25, 2024.

No official reopening date had been set for the Chief William Commanda Bridge as of March 8, even though it is seeing informal use.

The opening is “weather-dependent, and staff are closely monitoring forecasts to determine an approximate opening date,” city Roads Services Director Quentin Levesque told The BUZZ.

With temperatures fluctuating around freezing, “frost and ice buildup on the wooden bridge deck, making it unsafe to traverse” and there may also be further snow accumulation. “The city will only open the bridge once it is determined to be safe,” he said.

The BUZZ has seen city locks on the bridge fencing repeatedly broken and footsteps and bike tracks leading onto the bridge, indicating a demand for winter use of the bridge.

Levesque said the city will “continue to explore potential uses for the bridge during the winter months.” Because of the atypical weather this winter, staff could not “accurately assess the feasibility of alternate winter maintenance activities” or how the bridge could be used as a snow-packed winter trail.

Further south, the long-delayed Rideau River ped/cycling bridge between Carleton University and Vincent Massey Park will also be closed in the winter. At the city Light Rail Subcommittee on Feb. 29, Michael Morgan, the city’s director of its Rail Construction Program, told Councillor Theresa Kavanagh that the bridge would not be open year-round because the multi-use pathway it connects to is not winter-maintained.

However, the bridge is being built so that it could be winter-maintained, he said, so that decision could be revisited as part of a review of pathway connections.

The Rideau River Bridge is almost completed but no specific date has been given for opening. Morgan reported that it is still waiting for electrical connections for lighting and a final surface treatment/waterproofing of the bridge deck. The deck work cannot be done until temperatures are above freezing.

The bridge opening was first promised in December 2022, and then August 2023, but neither date was met. Morgan told the subcommittee that the bridge opening date was tied to “substantial completion” of the entire LRT Line 2 south extension and “we’ve given the authority to the contractor to prioritize their works … to other areas. … We did not impose a specific timeline for them.”

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