County supports new bridge at Alder Ridge

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County favours a project to replace an aging and vital bridge on Alder Ridge Road.

But, council is not ready to commit funding.

At its regular meeting Jan. 23, county council showed its support for a project in the M.D. of Smoky River based in Falher.

Smoky River is requesting a cost-sharing partnership from Alberta Transportation, Big Lakes County and the M.D. of Greenview to replace a bridge near the county’s western border.

“My motion is just for a letter of support,” High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrios says.

CAO Jordan Panasiuk says that is the best action to take as work on the proposal progresses.

“Benefits to us are relatively minimal,” Panasiuk says.

“It will require more discussion.”

The bridge has some benefit to the county, says a report from Vic Abel, director of public works.

“It would provide a more direct route from a gravel source within the M.D. of Smoky River to our gravel stockpile site in Gilwood and reduce hauling costs when production in the gravel pit occurs,” Abel says.

“However, hauling from this gravel pit would likely occur only once and save the county about $50,000.”

Cost to build a new two-lane bridge is estimated at $10,614,000, states an engineering report from WSP.

A 10 percent contingency would top the total cost to $12,736,800.

Smoky River was advised by Alberta Transportation to apply for funding from the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) Local Road Bridge program and the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Rural Northern Communities Fund.

“The engineer recommends replacing the structure with a single-lane bridge,” Abel says.

That is estimated to cost $7,747,200.

Replacing the bridge with a new structure would have a life expectancy of 80 years, the engineer reports.

If government funding is not approved, the engineer recommends the current bridge be repaired at a cost up to $4.8 million.

That would extend the life of the structure by 10-20 years.

Back in October 2017, council contributed 25 per cent of the cost of an engineering assessment.

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