- Mayor MacNevin joined Minister Rickford as the Province announces the replacement of the Swing Bridge
Ontario Replacing Little Current Swing Bridge in Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands
Province continuing to invest in key transportation projects in the North
September 08, 2023
Ministry of Northern Development
LITTLE CURRENT – The Ontario government has completed the planning, preliminary design and environmental assessment for the replacement of the Little Current Swing Bridge on Highway 6 in the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands. The project will now proceed with the next steps – property acquisition, right-of-way designation, and detail design.
“To keep people and goods moving safely and efficiently, our government is making targeted investments in highways, roads, and bridges to strengthen and expand our province’s transportation network,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “Replacement of the Little Current Swing Bridge will make travel smoother for residents, businesses, emergency services and tourists, while supporting economic growth and job creation in local communities.”
The existing swing bridge is almost 110 years old and nearing the end of its service life. It serves as the only roadway access to Manitoulin Island. The replacement of the Little Current Swing Bridge will improve traffic operations and the crossing to and from the island for all drivers.
“The Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands is very pleased that the Ontario government is focused on moving this project forward,” said Alan MacNevin, Mayor, Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands. “While the current bridge represents our connection to our past, the new bridge will represent our connection to the future by enhancing traffic flow and supporting growth and development on the Island.”
“Our government is continuing to invest in the safe and reliable transportation network that Northern Ontario needs to thrive,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. “Replacing Little Current’s swing bridge is a critical project that will make it easier for residents and families in the North to get where they need to go, while supporting good-paying jobs in the local community.”
- Northern Ontario has almost 11,000 kilometres of highway – about 60 per cent of the entire provincial highway network.
- The Ontario Highways Program provides information on highway expansion and rehabilitation projects that are planned or underway in communities across the province.
- The Northern Ontario Transportation Plan includes more than 60 actions that will get more people moving, improve travel options in remote communities, and support economic growth in the North.
Curtis Lindsay, Minister’s Office
Media Desk, Communications Branch
The Little Current Swing Bridge carries Highway 6 across a narrow channel separating Manitoulin Island from the much smaller Goat Island, forming the only land access. This bridge consists of two 70-foot deck plate girder approaches on the north end (Goat Island) and a single 60-foot deck plate girder approach on the south end (Manitoulin Island), with a 368-foot through swing bridge span.
The swing bridge sits 17.5 feet above the water, and provides a 160 foot opening on either side of the central pier for water passage.
Construction on the bridge foundations was commenced in 1912 by the Algoma Eastern Railway, and the bridge itself was constructed in 1913. Originally this was a railway-only bridge, the bridge stayed in the open position at all times except when a train needed to pass. Passenger traffic to the island was available only by ferry until 1946, when the bridge was improved to allow both rail and vehicle traffic. Train service to the island was subsequently truncated in the 1980s, with railway service ending at Turner on the Goat Island side, and the bridge now serves only vehicle traffic.
Currently, the bridge strongly favours highway traffic, staying in the closed (motor vehicles can pass) position at all times, except for the first fifteen minutes of each daylight hour during the summer, when it opens to permit boating traffic. At night and when the shipping channel is closed during the winter, the bridge stays in the closed position at all times. Originally powered by a gasoline engine, the mechanism was upgraded to electric motors in 2003. Due to the single vehicle lane, it is equipped with traffic signals, the only installation of such on Manitoulin Island.
This bridge, one of the only swing bridges in Canada, has been designated an Ontario Heritage site.
For more information regarding the operation of Little Current Swing Bridge, please contact the information line at 705-368-2969.