Downtown Chatham bridge closing Monday

Image of the proposed rehabilitation of Third Street Bridge with LED lighting observed from the riverfront walkway (Photo via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

If you want to cross the Thames River in Chatham, you won’t be able to use the Third Street bridge.

Starting Monday, the bridge connecting St. Clair Street with downtown will be completely closed to vehicles and pedestrians for at least the next eight months.

“The contractor can begin setting up the construction site, starting with the bridge deck removal and ultimately the demolition of the superstructure itself,” said Chatham-Kent Director of Engineering and Transportation Chris Thibert. “The project is anticipated to be completed in the spring in 2022, with a goal to have the bridge accessible to vehicles and pedestrians by the end of this year.”

The bridge won’t be completely new. Thibert said it’s being rehabilitated.

“The contractor is going to be installing new steel I-beams with a new wider concrete deck to provide wider driving lanes, wider sidewalks on both sides. So it’s a combination of new pieces, new structural members for the bridge, and salvaging existing members that still have a lot of life remaining to try to keep the costs down for this project.”

Previous reports said the price tag for the project is around $14 million.

The project will also include installation of new concrete decorative light standards on the bridge and on either side of it, as well as new lighting below the bridge so that the sidewalks can be used safely below. LED accent lights  will also be installed under the top railing of the bridge.

Image of the proposed rehabilitation of the Third Street Bridge over the Thames River with LED lighting observed from a driving perspective (Photo via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Image of the proposed rehabilitation of the Third Street Bridge over the Thames River with LED lighting observed from a driving perspective (Photo via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

However, the work means the bridge will no longer open for tall boats.

“All of the bridges basically upstream of the Prairie Siding Bridge right outside of Chatham are fixed structures. They no longer open for navigatable traffic,” said Thibert. “The waterway will still be maintained below the bridge of course, and that’s typically what we’ve been seeing along the Thames River, is small boat craft.”

Detour routes are posted as motorists and pedestrians are asked to use either the Fifth St. bridge or the Lacroix St. bridge. CK Transit will have detours posted on their buses and on their website, www.cktransit.ca.