Elgin County today announced “unexpected delays” in the $6 million rehabilitation of Port Stanley’s King George VI Lift Bridge. Work on the project started last spring and was slated for completion by May 31, 2021. Closure to vehicles, boaters and pedestrians is now extended to June 25, 2021, although the County will hoist one side of the bridge for marine traffic for the Victoria Day weekend.

“These delays are a result of the challenges associated with doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the County’s media release. “Health and safety protocols, and provincial social distancing requirements, have extended completion timelines.

“Additionally, COVID-19 related disruptions to the supply chain – which continue to affect various global sectors – have resulted in material delivery delays,” the release continues. “Impacts associated with these delays are budgeted through the project’s contingency and therefore the County expects no cost increases.”

The King George VI Lift Bridge is a “bascule drawbridge” built in 1939. With counterweights that continuously balance the spans through their upward swing, Port Stanley’s span over Kettle Creek is the oldest of its kind in Ontario. During construction of the bridge, a cofferdam collapsed, killing eight of the 13 workers. A brass plaque on the east tower commemorates the lost men.

The rehabilitation project involves structural, mechanical, and electrical repairs and is expected to extend the service life of the bridge about 25 years.

“Although we are disappointed that the bridge will take a bit longer to complete than we anticipated, we have all come to expect a bit of upheaval as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Warden Tom Marks. “Despite these delays, Council is extremely pleased with the progress being made on this important piece of County infrastructure and is committed to seeing the rehabilitation completed to the highest standards possible.”