Concern over Big Valley bridge

Bridge from Hwy. 56 to north boundary of Big Valley, Alta. shows severe deterioration. ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Stu Salkeld

Bridge from Hwy. 56 to the north boundary of Big Valley, Alta. shows severe deterioration. ECA Review/Submitted

The County of Stettler, at their regular council meeting on March 11, is concerned about the condition of a Big Valley access bridge which it says is Government of Alberta property.

The issue of Big Valley access (UAR 55) and Bridge File 07577 was presented to councillors by CAO Yvette Cassidy and Director of Operations Rick Green.

“On Dec. 18, 2019, the county placed a 10t load advisory on the bridge connecting Highway 56 to the north boundary of the Village of Big Valley,” stated the memo.

“This load restriction was the result of an inspection carried out by county staff that identified some severe deterioration of the bottom of the girders as well as broken stirrups.

The conditions have worsened since the last inspection in March of 2017.

The bridge is not in imminent danger of failure but the conditions do support the load rating and a reduced inspection cycle for condition monitoring.

Ultimately, further deterioration will result in the bridge being closed to all traffic.

“As this road is of the UAR designation, the bridge and road primarily benefit the Village of Big Valley and is generally the responsibility of the Alberta Government.

“The Alberta Government has indicated by email and verbally that the bridge is to be managed by the county and we have provided inspection services to that end, although it does not appear clear what the expectations are and how the Government pays for such management services.

“Our records management clerk did a file search looking for information pertaining to the responsibility of this road and bridge and came up with a attached letter dated September 1999 which indicates ‘the province intended to assume financial responsibility for the construction and maintenance of all secondary highways by April 1, 2000.”

Green noted the bridge will be inspected regularly and if it degrades past a certain point, it will be closed.

He added that the bridge offers most of its benefit to the Village of Big Valley, not the county, and if closed there are alternate routes.

“I’ve seen this bridge,” said Coun. Dave Grover.

“It’s terrible.” Coun. James Nibourg suggested the county have their lawyer send a letter to the provincial government noting the bridge is the province’s responsibility and include all the proof.

“We’re not taking responsibility for this bridge,” said Nibourg.

Coun. Ernie Gendre asked why the county was inspecting a provincial bridge. Green answered, traditionally, the county offered support to the provincial government through bridge inspections.

Gendre said any letter to the government should include a request to inspect their own bridges.

Councillors passed a motion to send the letter of concern to the provincial government.


Stu Salkeld, LJI reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.