Town councillors approved a plan for replacement of the North Bridge with construction scheduled to begin next year.
The decision was made during their regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 28 after hearing information from bridge engineer, Trevor Baragar of LEX3 Engineering, the company hired to come up with a design and pricing to replace the aging North Bridge, built in 1908.
The cost of the new bridge is estimated at $2.27 million plus an additional $1.2 million for roadwork needed to align 50 Avenue — or Chicken Hill — to the roadway leading to the bridge.
Payment modalities for the project will be determined by the town council during budget deliberations Dec. 8 and 9, which for the first time in many years, will be public meetings.
Councillors took the second lowest price option, opting for a 2.5 metre sidewalk rather than a 1.5 metre sidewalk to give pedestrians and bicyclists more room when crossing the river.
Baragar submitted two bridge options to councillors, each with the 1.5 and 2.5 metre sidewalk alternatives. He said the current bridge is past due for replacement. “I think it’s served the town very well, but it’s 106 years old.”
Bridge rehabilitation was conducted in 1937 and 1972 but Baragar says there are too many problems for this current bridge to remain safe.
“It’s getting to the point where its functionality is obsolete,” he explained.
These were the price options:
• Option 1A: $2.27 million with a 2.5 metre sidewalk
• Option 1B: $2.09 million with a 1.5 metre sidewalk
• Option 2A: $2.85 million with a 2.5 metre sidewalk
• Option 2B: $2.59 million with a 1.5 metre sidewalk
For the first option, Baragar says they used Alberta Transportation approved plans for a basic bridge with girders.
“They have drawings and specifications of how these bridges go together,” said Baragar.
He said this design comes with pre-cast concrete girders and the costs-savings is in the engineering, which is already done by the province. LEX3’s Option 2 was to design and build a single-span bridge with no girders.
“This bridge would have to be custom designed,” he said.
Coun. Marc Yaworski suggested Option 1A would be worth the extra $180,000, which would create extra room for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge. “I believe the money invested in the 2.5 metre sidewalk would be a better investment.”
CAO Rachel Kunz suggested that when it snows, there would be less room to walk side-by-side with a 1.5 sidewalk.
Baragar said the old bridge would have to be destroyed as he feels it is unsafe to be left open. Mayor Rick Bonnett asked whether there would be environmental issues with the bridge installation.
Baragar replied that there may be some conditions in how the bridge is installed but he says LEX3 has enough experience with this type of project and he did not foresee anything out of the ordinary that would cause delays or concerns.
The bridge is designed to deal with high flood levels and the bottom of the bridge is designed to stay at least one foot above the highest flood point.
Coun. Tim Falkiner suggested council wait for input on whether they should approve the first option with the 2.5 metre sidewalk. “I think more discussion needs to be held.”
Bonnett asked if there was any way to delay the decision and Baragar said the sooner they put it out to tender, the better as there is a small window in the summer that bridges are allowed to be built.
Council approved the request by five votes to one with Falkiner against it. Councillors Sandra Lyon and Carla Prediger were not at the meeting.