By Jessica Lovell
Since some recent paving and construction work was completed on Wyndham Street, it seems that transport trucks are having trouble clearing the train bridge. Now the road is closed again while city staff try to figure out the cause of the problem.
“We’re looking at the combination of the location of the crash beams and the proximity to the slope of the road” as one of the possible causes, said Don Kudo, the city’s interim city engineer.
Earlier this month, the city completed some asphalt paving on Wyndham Street and installed crash beams – a requirement of CN rail designed to protect a bridge from being hit – on either side of the train bridge that passes over Wyndham, said Kudo.
Since then, there have been four incidents involving transport trucks scraping the tops of their trailers as they tried to pass under the bridge, he said. Following the most recent incident, which happened Saturday at 9:30 a.m., the street was closed to vehicle traffic between Carden and Wellington streets. “In order to prevent further incidents, we decided to close the road in order to find alternative solutions,” said Kudo.
When the crash beams were first installed, they were marked with clearance of four metres. Signs leading up to the bridge also gave truck drivers advance warning of this clearance limit, but trucks were getting nicked.
“After hearing of these incidents we decided to change that clearance to 3.8 m as a measure to prevent further incidents,” said Kudo.
But at least one truck – the one on Saturday morning – hit the beams after the signs were changed, he said.
Additional signage and warning signals are among the solutions being considered. At the same time, the city is also reviewing the crash-beam design, Kudo said.
The four-metre-clearance limit was based on actual clearance of 4.1 metres directly under the crash beams, he said.
The possibility that this limit might not be sufficient when the slope of Wyndham Street is taken into account is part of the design review that is being undertaken, he said.
There have been no injuries as a result of any of the collisions, but several trucks have been damaged.
Guelph Police Service put the estimate of the cost of the damage in the thousands of dollars.
Kudo said he could not comment on whether the city could be on the hook for these costs if it is discovered that the clearance limit should have been set lower.
“We haven’t completed the review to confirm if that is the issue,” he said.
In response to a question posted on city councillor Cam Guthrie’s Ward 4 blog, Kudo said the city hopes to get the road open by the end of this week.
Asked whether the city is considering excavating and repaving Wyndham Street, Kudo responded: “The city will explore all viable options.”
Excavating may not work, though, because of underground infrastructure and road slope constraints, he said.
Kudo said it is premature to comment on the cost of this option as “it may not be the appropriate solution.”
By Jessica Lovell