A new New Burgoyne High Level Bridge?

Niagara Region may, in a few years, have to replace the Burgoyne Bridge which carries St. Paul Street over Twelve Mile Creek. The bridge was opened in 1914 to replace a swing bridge over the Second Welland Canal in the valley below. Before the new bridge, St. Catharines had no fixed link to its train station.

Here’s a Google Map. Here’s a little history.

I hope this new bridge (or a renovation of the current bridge) makes access to downtown a little easier on foot and bike. Today, some of the most uncomfortable places to travel without a car are the bridges across Highway 406. In particular, I’m thinking of Welland/Fourth, Ontario/Westchester, and Geneva. These bridges are straight and wide, and consequently cars race across them as if they are a part of the highway below.

There will be a temptation to add more lanes if a new bridge is built, but I’m not sure that would be necessary. Cars have to move fairly slowly on either side of this bridge because its an old part of the city and the road is narrow. They shouldn’t be encouraged to zoom ahead for the thirty seconds (or so) it takes to cross. Instead, I’d like to see wider sidewalks and the addition of bicycle lanes. West St Catharines is within walking and biking distance of downtown; more people might opt to access downtown this way if it were less unpleasant to cross Twelve Mile Creek.

Take a look at the postcard above. That beautiful bridge was replaced by a harsh concrete overpass over the 406. Right now it is quite impressive to pass under the Burgoyne Bridge on your way into the city; let’s keep it that way, even if it is a new bridge.

Both photos are from the Niagara Falls Public Library. You can find thousands more at their website.

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