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Metrolinx rehabilitating historic Rouge River bridge as part of the GO expansion program

Adapted from a post on the Metrolinx News blog by Rosie Hales, Metrolinx senior communications advisor.

Metrolinx continues working to enhance the 01 Lakeshore East line, as part of the GO Expansion Program.

Metrolinx is rehabilitating one of the oldest rail bridges in East Toronto so it can operate more GO Transit train service in the future: After more than a century of service, the iconic Rouge River bridge is getting a major facelift.

Connecting Toronto and Pickering and spanning the mouth of the Rouge River, the 117-year-old bridge is an important part of the Lakeshore East GO Line. The line is the second busiest route on the GO network. Metrolinx originally planned to fully replace the bridge as part of the larger expansion project, but, since it is a “provincial heritage property”, the regional transit agency decided to rehabilitate the bridge, instead of replacing it.

Rouge 1.jpg

^ At 117 years old, the Rouge River bridge is a heritage property of provincial significance. Image, Metrolinx

The bridge’s structure has heritage value because of its ashlar stone masonry substructure and steel-deck truss superstructure. This refers to the stone that supports the bridge on either side of the river and the steel structure that supports the train tracks that extend across the bridge. In fact, the bridge is just one of a few remaining railway bridges in Toronto and surrounding area that features this characteristic early railway bridge construction.

The rehabilitation work started this fall and will extend the life of the bridge by another 20 years.

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^ The Rouge River bridge is at the mouth of the Rouge River crosses two municipalities: the City of Toronto in the west and the City of Pickering to the east. Image, Google Maps

The scope of the project includes:

  • Repairing the bridge’s superstructure (the part of the bridge that that carries the load from one side to the other), including: blast cleaning and coating all structural steel and steel surfaces; and repairing, strengthening and replacing the structural steel members that support the bridge’s structure.
  • Repairing the bridge’s substructure (the structure on either side at the base of the bridge that supports the superstructure), including: repairing masonry stone for the abutments and piers, injecting crack (the process of inserting a fluid resin into voids in a concrete structure, patch repairing the concrete, repairing grout at the approach-span bearing pedestals and replacing the bridge bearing (A bridge bearing carries the loads in both vertical and horizontal directions from the bridge superstructure and transfers those loads to the bridge piers and abutments.)
  • Replacing timber deck ties and track and relocating and protecting communication utilities. (The deck of the bridge is the actual surface that trains use to cross the bridge.)
  • Adding a new approach slab. (The bridge approaches are the parts that provide the transition between the railway corridor and bridge, replacing retaining walls and 25 metres of track on each side of the bridge.

Rouge 3.jpg

^ Metrolinx is replacing the bridge’s timber deck ties and track when it rehabilitates it. Image, Metrolinx

Because Metrolinx is only rehabilitating the bridge, instead of replacing it, the project has a much smaller construction footprint and fewer impacts to the surrounding communities.

Due to the age of the bridge and its provincial significance, Metrolinx has also been working closely with a number of stakeholders, including Parks Canada since the bridge is within the boundaries of the Rouge National Urban Park to consult on construction issues, such as access, fencing requirements and the construction lay-down area (the part of a construction site where crews temporarily store, receive or assemble equipment or other supplies).

Metrolinx has scheduled the project to continue until “next spring”, meaning as late as until June 30, 2022.

Metrolinx and GO plan to accommodate more passengers and increase service along the Lakeshore East line, as part of their GO Expansion Program (formerly “regional express rail”).