Bridge restrictions to alter bus routes Monday

Rob Potter // Western News

The 6 Richmond, 6A Richmond and 13 Wellington routes that currently run over the University Drive Bridge will now stop at the university’s Richmond Gates.

Due to recently recommended weight restrictions on University Drive Bridge, the Richmond and Wellington London Transit (LTC) bus routes will be altered for the foreseeable future – starting with Monday’s commute.

Last fall, engineers identified needed repairs to the 92-year-old bridge during its annual visual inspection. Earlier this week, Parsons Engineering, the firm that won the contract for the repairs, recommended that the 60-foot articulated buses (‘double-buses’) used by the city not use the bridge until the firm’s load testing was complete.

The 6 Richmond, 6A Richmond and 13 Wellington routes that currently run over the bridge will now stop at the university’s Richmond Gates.

“We’re working as quickly as possible to look at what options there are to speed up the process,” said Peter White, Executive Director, Government Relations. “Traditionally, you would wait until warm weather to break the concrete up and visually inspect the steel. But we recognize the inconvenience this is going to cause, so we want to look at as many options as we can, as quickly as we can, while also ensuring the safe operation of the bridge.

Parsons will be back on campus on Monday to continue to expedite the load test and minor repair proces

White stressed there is no danger for other types of vehicles using the bridge. The university restricted heavy truck use of the bridge in 2002. The heaviest vehicles using the bridge today are buses.

Updates with respect to detour routing will be posted on the LTC website and Western’s website on an ongoing basis. This issue does not affect any other buses routes that come onto campus or normal vehicular traffic.

Members of the Western community who have disabilities will be accommodated. Students should be contacting Students with Disabilities at 519-661-2147.  Faculty and staff who require assistance should contact Western Equity and Human Rights office by calling 519-661-3883 or emailing accessibility@uwo.ca.

It was in 1923 when faculty, staff and students entered Western’s new campus from Richmond Street by way of a rather non-descript laneway, crossing an ornate bridge that offered a magnificent view of Middlesex Memorial Tower rising atop the Arts Building. Since then, University Drive Bridge has been one of the iconic pieces of the campus.

The structure was the first ornate bridge to be built in southwestern Ontario and harmonized perfectly with the new buildings. Students in the summer school class of 1923 were the first to use the bridge. Officially opened to traffic in November 1923, University Bridge remained virtually unchanged for 70 years. In 2002, the bridge underwent major repairs and upgrades. The original stonework and esthetic beauty of the bridge was reluctantly sacrificed in lieu of improved pedestrian safety and traffic flow.