Town of Ponoka councillors voted to approve the replacement of the North Bridge in conjunction with the road realignment project.
The projects are estimated to cost a total of $5.45 million, approximately $1.85 million more than planned for, said CAO Rachel Kunz. Much of the cost will be debentured.
Recommendations to award the projects to the lowest bidders were presented by Tagish Engineering for the road realignment and Lex 3 for the new bridge. Tagish recommended the town award the road project to In-Line Contracting for $2.65 million and Lex 3 recommended the bridge project to Volker Stevin Highways for $2.37 million.
In addition to the two projects, the town estimated another $435,000 for street lighting, engineering consultants and equipment storage.
Coun. Tim Falkiner was not in favour of spending the money on the bridge. “Based on the state of the economy and perhaps the need for a new town hall, and a new RCMP station. Perhaps the money could be put to better use.”
He suggested closing the bridge would be a better option as the increase in taxes to all residents would only benefit a small area.
“The residents living in that area, they’re not a large percentage of our constituency,” he added.
Coun. Teri Underhill disagreed, stating the bridge is used by many residents each day. “There is a fair amount of traffic using that bridge.”
She added that many residents on the west side of town use the bridge and Coun. Marc Yaworski said the bridge is an access point to the town’s waste transfer station. He feels that a “one bridge town” is not something councillors want to see.
“No matter where, we’re going to have to spend some money and it’s going to impact the taxpayer,” added Bonnett.
He suggests the biggest challenge with previous councils was waiting for money to come for larger projects. The North Bridge replacement is an example of that; in 2003 the council of the day commissioned a report on the bridge, which said it would need to be replaced by 2012. However, no money was saved and little action was taken to move the project forward.
“We have to grab the bull by the horns,” stated Bonnett.
In a vote of 6-1, council approved amending the capital budget for the project to $5.45 million from $3.6 million with Falkiner opposed. Council also voted to award the road realignment project to In-Line Contracting with Falkiner opposed. Council voted unanimously to award the bridge project to Volker Stevin Highways.