© Geraldine Brophy
The bridge leading to Humber Village.
CORNER BROOK There may be some inconvenience in store for residents before all is said and done, but the folks living in Humber Village will soon have a new bridge to their community on the Humber River.
Repairing the bridge has been a top priority for the unincorporated community for years.
Now, the board of directors that runs the private community has secured a $500,000 line of credit with the Bank of Montreal to go with the $425,000 in cash reserves it has set aside to repair the well-worn bridge structure.
Andrew May, the board’s chair, said the bridge committee has reached a purchase agreement to buy new decking for the current bridge. He said the cost of $495,000 was “economical” and the board is satisfied it has gotten a good deal on a bridge that will serve the residents well.
A tender will soon be issued for the installation contract.
May said there is also a contingency budget for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise once work on the project commences.
“We feel we are in a good position financially to do this within our resources and, in fact, we expect not to use up all the credit we have available,” said May.
Humber Village will use up its cash reserve before dipping into the credit being made available through the bank.
Work is expected to take between four to six weeks and is hoped to be done this fall. It will be postponed until next spring if it can’t be done this year for some reason.
The project will temporarily pose access challenges to residents and visitors since the bridge is the only way to and from Humber Village. May said ensuring children get to school will be a priority, but some folks may have to leave early and come back late on occasion during the installation.
The details of how the reduced access will be managed will be announced publicly later.
May said some people may consider leaving their vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway side of the Humber River and some may even cross the river by boat during the construction.
“I can foresee people making their own decisions as to how to do that, but it remains to be seen what the different contractors are going to propose in terms of managing access,” he said.
The new bridge decking will feature all galvanized steel components, removing the problem of timber now used on the bridge deteriorating over time. During construction, the contractor will examine all of the girders holding the structure up to see what remedial work can be carried out as the project unfolds.
The steel panels that will cover the bridge will have a non-slip, textured surface. That will make it more comfortable to walk and drive over and will provide more protection to the understructure than the current grid-style decking.
The current bridge has a driving track that is 10 feet wide and a walking path that is 28 inches wide. The new bridge will have a driving lane that is 11 feet wide and a pedestrian walkway that will be five feet wide.
In 2012, Humber Village’s residents voted to beomce a municipality but the province turned down the application because of a "lack of consensus" among residents.
May said there is “widespread support” for the bridge project and a small number of people have asked that the bridge project be approved at a shareholders meeting, but most people have indicated to the board they do not feel a meeting is necessary.
“We’re confident we have the mandate to do it,” said May. “It’s my experience, based on communications I have had with shareholders that this is the right bridge for Humber Village and it’s time for us to go ahead and do it.”
The project will mean a hike in the annual assessments paid by the 60 or so households in Humber Village during the eight-year term of the bank loan. Villagers currently pay $1,700 annually and May said the revised assessment will add on another $600 or $700, with the revised amount payable in two installments.
This rate is still lower than what property owners pay at neighbouring Humber Valley Resort, where May said the annual fee is in the vicinity of $3,300 plus HST. He also said it is comparable to property tax rates paid in Corner Brook.
Also serviced by the bridge are three houses downriver from Humber Village at Marbleview Estates and a cabin and residence further up the river. There are also several parcels of vacant land outside of Humber Village, the owners of which pay an assessment for the right to use Humber Village infrastructure, including the bridge.
*** Updated to fix line concerning municipal status vote ***