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Exshaw Creek pedestrian bridge options being reconsidered

BIGHORN – The MD of Bighorn is reconsidering whether to use concrete or steel to build a pedestrian bridge, after options for its construction were brought forward at the June 11 council meeting. Part of the $10.
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Exshaw Creek Flooding Mitigation
Representatives of LaFarge and the MD of Bighorn pose next to equipment along Exshaw Creek in Exsahw on April 23. LaFarge has donated land and stone towards the $10.3 million flood mitigation project.
BIGHORN – The MD of Bighorn is reconsidering whether to use concrete or steel to build a pedestrian bridge, after options for its construction were brought forward at the June 11 council meeting. Part of the $10.6 million Exshaw Creek debris-flood mitigation project, a project engineer revealed the design for a pre-cast concrete box girder pedestrian bridge at an open house earlier this year – a disappointment to some residents who were familiar with the original steel pedestrian bridge, also known as the Yellow Bridge, that was damaged in the 2013 flood. “The contractor has come back and said a steel bridge might be cheaper than a concrete bridge,” Chief Administrative Officer Rob Ellis told council.

Initial estimates from the developer indicated the steel bridge could be cheaper to construct, resulting in cost savings for the MD, but a decision would need to be made by mid-June as to not delay the project. The next MD council meeting is July 9, prompting administration to ask for permission to make the final decision, which was approved unanimously by council. Administration would only choose the steel option if the final quote is cheaper than the tender price of the concrete bridge.

“It is essential not to slow down a major project,” Reeve Dene Cooper noted.

Other potential perks of the steel versus concrete bridge included, the bridge being .5 meters wider than what the concrete bridge would be, a more “attractive” look, no significant difference in durability or ongoing maintenance, and the deciding factor, preliminary costing suggests it will be a cheaper alternative. At press time a decision had yet to be made. Ellis said administration was still waiting for the contractor to provide the costing and details for a steel bridge before making the decision to move forward with the new design, or stay with the original. The original design was revealed at an open house in January when the project had secured various sources of funding, including $1.9 million from the federal government, $3.3 million from Alberta, and a $3.7 million commitment from Lafarge in material and land. However the pedestrian bridge was excluded from both grants and would have to be totally funded through the MD. “Funding is not granted through federal or provincial funding, but the MD realized the importance of the bridge,” the project engineer said at the open house. Potential funding for the structure was later announced in March after the MD, in partnership with the Town of Canmore, received a federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund grant from Infrastructure Canada, which could cover 40 per cent of the bridge cost and secured funding was announced in April after Alberta Transport approved a grant for 75 per cent of the project up to $283,500 for the future bridge, funded under the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP). The structure design would not affect either grant. The Exshaw Creek debris-flood mitigation project was awarded in March and construction began in April. Along with reconstructing the pedestrian bridge, other major components of the debris-flood mitigation project include a debris retention structure, channel evacuation, construction of a sediment pond, weir and spillway, and installation of channel amouring. An update for the total project was released in April, noting the construction was going good and is moving along. The expected completion date of the whole project is the seven-year anniversary since the flood, June 2020.