This bridge is one of a decreasing number of surviving heritage bridges on the Trent Severn Waterway. It is a riveted through plate girder swing bridge, with a bobtail design and the swing pier located on the ground next to the actual canal. The bridge still swings open for boats, and photos and video of this bridge in operation are available in the photo gallery. The bridge retains excellent historic integrity, with no major alterations to the plate girder superstructure detected. Some of the mechanical equipment has been replaced and updated, however despite this, the bridge still in general operates as originally designed. The bridge also retains what appear to be the original railings, and what appears to be the original metal grate deck for the sidewalk.
This swing bridge is an integral part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, a National Historic Site of Canada. Originally, this bridge was slated to be rehabilitated. But why preserve a heritage bridge when you can instead reduce it to a pile of scrap metal and put in a new bridge that has no heritage value whatsoever and detracts from the historic significance and integrity of the Trent-Severn Waterway? That apparently was the thought process since this heritage bridge is now scheduled to be demolished and replaced. Reasons given were claims that a rehabilitated bridge would only last 20 years while a replacement bridge would last longer. Such claims are frequently made by consulting engineers who lack experience in the rehabilitation of heritage bridge, while also being extremely skilled in more costly projects that demolish and replace the bridge. A good engineer with heritage bridge experience should be able to repair and rehabilitate a bridge like this to like-new condition, while also paying attention to retaining original bridge materials and design. Such a rehabilitated bridge would generally offer a service life similar to that of a replacement bridge.
As a National Historic Site of Canada, the Trent-Severn Waterway has been given the country's highest honor for heritage significance. National Historic Sites of Canada should receive the highest preservation priority given that they have been listed among the most noteworthy heritage structures in Canada. Since bridges such as the Hastings Swing Bridge are a key part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, they too should receive the highest preservation priority. It is deeply disappointing that Parks Canada appears to have given only a half-hearted effort to seeking a project solution that would provide a long-lasting, preserved heritage bridge, thereby maintaining one of the key aspects of the Trent-Severn Waterway's heritage characteristics.
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