Kneehill County council will not only send a letter to the provincial government about a bridge in horrible condition but will try to speak directly to the minister of transportation about it. The resolutions about the bad bridge were made at the Dec. 13 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a presentation by Director of Infrastructure Mike Ziehr regarding the deplorable condition of a provincially-owned bridge which crosses Three Hills Creek near Wimborne on Sec. Hwy. 587.
“A concern has been raised regarding the current condition of the bridge on Hwy. 587 crossing the Bigelow Reservoir,” stated Ziehr in his report to council, which requested permission to send a letter of concern to Alberta Transportation.
“The bridge was constructed in 1971 and has steadily declined in condition as time has passed. A recent bridge inspection in February by the province indicated many deficiencies in the bridge substructure and wearing surface including major spalling of the concrete on the bridge girders and deep longitudinal cracks along these girder separations, resulting in a low rating being given to the structure.”
Ziehr noted that Coun. Wade Christie originally brought the concerns to him and the county Public Works department looked into it. While the bridge is not Kneehill County’s responsibility, the county is concerned about the situation for several reasons stated Ziehr.
“Ratepayers and industries within Kneehill County rely on this bridge to provide efficient transportation of people and products across the northern portion of the county,” stated Ziehr’s report.
“The unplanned closure of this bridge due to failure or potential loading restrictions would create a five-mile detour around and place added strain on local municipal roads. The estimated daily traffic on this section of road is between 220 and 300 vehicles per day.”
It was noted several times during the discussion the bridge is condition rated as “2,” meaning urgent repairs should be undertaken.
Ziehr stated it does not appear the bridge in question is scheduled for repair or replacement.
“In response to inquiries on plans for repair, Alberta Transportation representatives have noted that they are aware of the current condition but have no immediate plans to replace the structure,” stated Ziehr’s memo.
“Alternatively, the department may look at lowering speed limits and restricting weights on the bridge until budgets allow the replacement.”
The director of infrastructure stated he feels the bridge should be treated as a serious situation.
“It is something the department should be taking fairly seriously, I believe,” said Ziehr.
Coun. Ken King asked if just a letter was enough in this situation, or if Kneehill County should request a meeting with Devin Dreeshan, minister of transportation, at next spring’s Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) conference.
“I guess written communications are easy to ignore,” said King.
Coun. Christie stated he was in favour of a face-to-face meeting after noting he’d already spoken to the MLA about this bridge.
Councillors unanimously approved sending a letter to the minister of transportation with their concerns about the bridge, plus request a meeting with him at next spring’s RMA conference.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter