Demolition: This is how Kincardine treats Ontario's transportation heritage. Photo Credit: Troy Patterson, Kincardine News
This bridge narrative once presented a nice story about a beautiful, and extremely significant heritage bridge that appeared to be located in a community that took pride in its history and appeared to be a nice place to visit and live. That narrative has been removed, and this new narrative paints the true image of Kincardine.
The Huron Terrace Bridge was a bridge that included a relatively large main subdivided Warren deck truss span, with deck plate girder approaches on either end. One of the main reasons this bridge was so noteworthy was that it retained an extremely high degree of historic integrity, including original deck, stringers, floorbeams, truss web, railings, and plaques. As a deck truss it represented the less common form of general truss arrangement (through and pony being more common). Only a few rivets replaced with bolts were the only alterations noted on the bridge. The other reason this bridge was significant was that it was a beautiful structure. Its trusses and railings formed a complex geometric art, and its location complimented beautiful Lake Huron near the bridge, as well as the historic lighthouse right next to the bridge. Beyond transportation heritage and beauty, the Huron Terrace Bridge was noteworthy as a connection to the history of metal fabrication in Ontario and Great Britain. The bridge's trusses contained some of the most pristine and unique examples of built-up beams, which contained the names of Canadian and British steel companies on the steel. Even the bronze plaques on the bridge proudly claimed that the bridge was built entirely of Canadian and British steel, suggesting this bridge was a source of local pride when built. The bridge's contractors were also located in Ontario, making it a true Canadian bridge with no influence from the States nor from Japan and other modern sources of steel, which by the way is not as pure and long-lasting as steel from the period of this heritage bridge. It is sad that the pride that must have been felt when this bridge was first built did not remain in the hearts of Kincardine officials who chose to demolish the bridge.
The Huron Terrace Bridge was an extremely significant heritage bridge that could have and should have been preserved but was instead demolished. Worse, Kincardine did not appear to even study and consider the wide variety of alternatives to demolition of this heritage bridge. Kincardine had claimed the bridge was not wide enough, and indeed this was probably the main reason the bridge was demolished, because the bridge was not structurally deficient and could have been easily restored to maintain its integrity and even increase its posted weight limit. Aside from restoring the bridge for continued vehicular use, alternatives to demolition might have included building a second bridge parallel to the historic bridge. The second bridge could have been vehicular, forming a one-way couplet of bridges, or the bridge could have been pedestrian giving non-motorized traffic and vehicular traffic more room and separation from each other. restoring the bridge for continued vehicular use. Alternatively, the new bridge could have been for all vehicular traffic, while the heritage bridge would remain for non-motorized use. Finally, if none of those options were feasible at the very least the bridge, in particular the main warren deck truss span, could have been relocated to a new place. In a new location it might serve as a non-motorized crossing, perhaps in a park or on a non-motorized trail. Alternatively it could have been placed on land as a non-functional exhibit and memorial to transportation heritage.
The replacement slab, unworthy of being called a bridge, will not offer any beauty or heritage to Kincardine and instead will be an ugly eyesore like most modern bridges. It is good that they decided to build the new slab extra wide with a viewing platform to look at Lake Huron because aside from the lighthouse, that is about all that will be worth looking at where the heritage bridge was once located.
In the long run, Kincardine will be worse off for choosing to wipe this beautiful bridge off the face of the earth. The last visit to this municipality showed that its downtown will begin to lose business since people traveling on KH-21 have less and less reason to stop and visit downtown. In recent years, there has been considerable commercial development where the big KH-21 highway passes by on the outside edge of the municipality, and worse, some downtown businesses have moved from downtown locations out to KH-21. This being the case, the preservation of heritage resources like the Huron Terrace Bridge would be exactly the sort of thing Kincardine should have wanted to do to give people a continuing reason to turn off of the main highway and explore the downtown area.
Kincardine is a sharp contrast to communities like the municipality of Goderich whose citizens stood up and saved Balls Bridge from demolition.
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This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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