Speedvale underpass project in Guelph faces 10 year delay

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It could be at least another 10 years before an underpass is put in place on Speedvale Avenue next to the Speed River.

An open house was held at Guelph City Hall on Thursday night so staff could update residents on the project, which was first proposed in July 2015.

The goal is to connect the Trans Canada Trail from downtown to Riverside Park under the bridge on the west side of the river, instead of having cyclists and pedestrian use an on-street crosswalk next to the fire station at Riverview Drive.

The most troublesome issue surrounds a retaining wall on the north side of Speedvale Avenue that crews would have to replace in order to continue the path to the Enabling Garden in Riverside Park.

Staff estimate the wall is about 40-50 years old and should last at least another 10 years. Along with the timing, the rising cost is another issue.

“To replace something that didn’t need replacing — we thought that wouldn’t be fiscally prudent,” said Marc Garon-Nielsen, a landscape architect with a consulting firm working on the project.

Garon-Nielson added the project has “significant construction challenges.” He said it’s a very narrow and constrained location on the north side of Speedvale Avenue.

About 50 residents who showed up for the meeting had the opportunity to ask if other options had been considered, such as a boardwalk or going up the other side of the river.

They were told 10 options were considered and only one is being recommended.

“This is the only construction option,” said Heather Flaherty, the city’s general manager of parks and recreation.

The aging Speedvale Avenue bridge will need to be rebuilt before the city moves ahead with the underpass. The bridge reconstruction isn’t expected to be completed until 2022.

In the interim, the city plans on extending the crosswalk on Speedvale Avenue from the fire station north to the path from Riverside Park.

City council will have the final say on how the project should proceed when it receives a report in December.

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