Ponoka County will be making some key improvements to their road systems this summer.
At their April 23 meeting, council approved a paving project for slightly more than two miles of Bobtail Road east of Highway 2A along with the replacement of a bridge northwest of Rimbey.
CAO Charlie Cutforth explained that a $700,000 grant from the province had been approved for the reconstruction of the bridge on Township 441 just off Range Road 15. That has allowed the county to re-evaluate its resurfacing treatment of Bobtail Road from the highway to the western edge of the Montana First Nation.
“Since we now have the grant approved for the bridge and the province declined a grant for Bobtail, I recommend we proceed on our own with paving Bobtail,” Cutforth told council.
“The reason to look at paving is, if we go again with the chip seal it is going to need some major work, and it makes no sense to spend that this year if we intend to pave it.”
Cutforth added that the money saved on the bridge project, through receiving the grant, can be combined with the estimated $1.6 million from not doing the chip seal replacement on Bobtail in order to have enough for the paving project.
“As well, depending on the bids, we may be able to get the pavement done lower than our estimated cost as there isn’t a lot of these kind of jobs out there and it’s likely some contractors are hungry for work,” he said.
It’s also possible that the Montana First Nation could piggyback on the project, as they have in the past indicated a willingness to have a portion of their road paved. However, Cutforth noted there has been no discussions as of yet with Montana representatives and that they could be added on later if necessary.
“It’s critical that this project be done regardless, as there is a pretty good amount of traffic on Bobtail Road and the preliminary engineering is already complete,” he said.
There is a bridge on the road that will need work done at some time, but Cutforth explained the pavement can be done and the bridge reconstruction accomplished later when funds become available.
Council approved a motion to move ahead with putting together the full engineering package followed by putting the project out for tender.
Two other bridge projects — one on Range Road 30 and the other on Township Road 424 — are due to be completed later this year. The first one, located west of Rimbey, will have to wait until ATCO moves a gas line later in the summer, while the other bridge southwest of Ponoka is slated to be finished in the next couple of months.
As for road work, the county is planning construction on RR 35 (1 mile), RR 245 (3.5 miles) and Twp Rd 424 (3 miles), while a rebuild of two miles of RR 251 is still awaiting approvals from Alberta Environment that will mean it won’t be done until at least 2020.