A popular story in the Port Stanley rumor mill was dispelled this week, putting to rest recent chatter around unconfirmed reports that the $6.5 million King George VI Lift Bridge rehabilitation is ahead of schedule. One version of that yarn even speculates the bridge will be completed by Christmas.

“As detailed in Elgin County’s project website ( https://portstanleyliftbridge.ca/ ) it’s still anticipated that the project will be completed by May 2021,” said Brian Lima, Elgin County’s Director of Engineering Services.

Lima said the County’s contractor – Landform Infrastructure – is on schedule and focused on: concrete repair; reinforcement, repair and placement of structural steel components; and completion of structural steel sandblasting and re-painting.

“With such works substantially completed to the west span, Landform is now focusing their … efforts to the east span,” said Lima. “Once such … efforts are completed this fall (and) over the upcoming … winter months, Landform will then focus … on replacing all of the bridge’s electrical, control and mechanical systems.

“The final task to be completed in the spring, will involve commissioning of the various systems, complete system controls calibration and bridge balancing before the May 31, 2021 deadline,” he added. Rehabilitation started in the spring.

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.

Normally, the bridge links neighborhoods to the east and west of Kettle Creek, opening and closing every hour on the hour, allowing boaters and fishing vessels to navigate from the inner harbour to Lake Erie. During rehabilitation, one span of the bridge remains open at all times to accommodate marine traffic. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic must use the Warren Street detour route.