Bobcaygeon Swing Bridge - Questions and answers

Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site

Q: What does the Bobcaygeon Swing Bridge project entail?

A: The overall project includes rehabilitation of the steel superstructure and the concrete foundations, replacement of mechanical and electrical operating systems, and combining separate hydraulic operating systems for the bridge and lock into one hydraulic power unit. Finally, the steel deck is being replaced with a new wooden deck. A wooden deck is in keeping with the original heritage structure, and will also facilitate the community’s ability to host parades featuring livestock.

Q: How can wheelchairs and scooters cross the canal while the bridge and its pedestrian sidewalk are out of service?

A: Earlier last summer, after the Contractor removed the temporary pedestrian bridge, Parks Canada instructed the Contractor to develop an enhanced crossing option while the swing bridge remains out-of-service. As a result, the upper lock gate walkway at the lockstation was widened to a width of 4ft, with ramps, which accommodate many personal transportation devices. Snow and ice will be cleared on this path over the winter months. This modification will be removed when the bridge is re-opened to vehicular traffic..

Q: Why have there been construction delays?

A: Parks Canada’s construction projects are considered part of the Agency’s critical services to the public, and the rehabilitation of the Bobcaygeon Swing Bridge has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in spring 2021, we communicated that due to delays associated with the hydraulic system design and fabrication due in part to COVID-19 restrictions, together with some unforeseen additional structural repairs, that the bridge would not be re-opening in spring 2021 as originally planned.

Additionally, as previously communicated in summer 2021, Parks Canada was advised that the Contractor was unable to submit quality control documentation for the fabrication of some key mechanical components. Mechanical components consist of things like the fasteners, wheels, locking pins, and center pivot bearings, which are essential components that allow the bridge to be moved. As such, Parks Canada did not allow the installation of these components, and instructed that they are to be re-fabricated.

Earlier this fall, in order to assist with resolving concerns regarding the mechanical components, a new Consultant was brought onto the project to review and finalise the design, and re-fabrication of required components for the bridge. At that point it was believed that a December 2021 bridge re-opening timeframe was still achievable. However, upon review by the new Consultant, Parks Canada was recently advised by the Contractor that they will be unable to meet this timeframe and that the re-opening of the bridge needed to be pushed to Spring 2022 due to issues mainly associated with the mechanical component re-fabrication.

Q: What does missing quality control documentation mean for the re-opening of the bridge?

A: The quality control documents in question are key to the delivery of the project as they demonstrate that the mechanical components were fabricated in accordance with both the contract and industry standards. The missing or non-compliant documentation is unusual, and raises concerns for the overall quality of the individual components as they relate to the safety and reliability of the rehabilitated bridge. As such, Parks Canada did not allow the installation of these components and instructed that they are re-fabricated.

Once all quality control documentation and fabrication drawings have been received from the new Consultant, the re-fabrication of components will be completed at an offsite machining shop, which is expected to take between 9 -10 weeks. Delivery and installation is expected to start in February 2022.

Work on the installation of the hydraulic system and electrical systems is expected to be completed in parallel with the installation of the mechanical components and completion of the superstructure work. Testing of the bridge operation systems and bridge swings will start once the substantial completion of the work has been reached. Re-opening of the bridge should follow shortly afterwards, which is anticipated to be by mid-spring. Testing will continue into the navigation season, thus allowing testing under actual vehicle and boat traffic conditions. Testing may result in temporary and short closures in late spring/summer 2022.

Q: Does Parks Canada have concerns regarding other work on the bridge?

A: Following the project update issued during summer 2021, further verifications of the mechanical components revealed additional concerns which needed to addressed. This was brought to the attention of the Contractor and is being addressed by the new Consultant. Parks Canada and its Consultant will continue to complete quality control checks at the manufacturer and on-site to ensure the components meet the specifications in the contract.

All other documentation requested under the contract has been received, and quality control measures were and are being adhered to. Onsite quality control for the concrete and structural steel is being undertaken by a third-party engineering design consultant. Hydraulic and electrical equipment are assembled from components that have a certification from an certification agency, such as the Canadian Standard Association (CSA), which simplifies the verification and acceptance of these products. Thorough factory testing of the hydraulic and electrical equipment will be completed prior to the delivery and installation. Our Consultant, together with a Parks Canada technician, will also be doing inspection of the hydraulic and electrical systems installations.

Q: Why didn’t Parks Canada and the contractor know the condition of the bridge structure before the project was started?

A: It is very commonly the case that the full extent of deterioration of the steel structure isn’t fully known until media blasting (sandblasting) to remove paints and other coatings has occurred, disassembly has begun, and all areas of the bridge can be fully inspected. This is despite being inspected as a part of Parks Canada’s ongoing maintenance program, and being inspected by a third-party consultant who remains onsite as a part of the project.

Q: Will the contractor be held financially responsible for these delays?

A: Right now we are concentrating on completing the project and getting the bridge operational, to the very best standards. Following the project there will be a full accounting of the reasons for delay to the bridge’s opening. Anything that would constitute a breach of contract or financial responsibility for delay will be determined through a formal review process - following the completion of the project, and not before.

Q: Will there be delays for 2022 navigation season?

A: Parks Canada does not expect any delays to the 2022 navigation season. Due to the nature of the ongoing work, the Bobcaygeon Swing Bridge construction project does not impact boat navigation.

Q: Will businesses be compensated for any losses incurred during this closure?

A: Parks Canada operates and maintains infrastructure that's designed to serve the public, and will not offer compensation when these structures require maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement.

Q: Where can I find updates about the project?

A: Information about this or any ongoing, major works along the Trent-Severn Waterway can be found at To receive updates about this project by mail, subscribe by reaching out to trentsevern Or, follow on Twitter or Facebook @trentsevernnhs.

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