EXSHAW – The new pedestrian bridge installed over Exshaw Creek last week is one of the final construction pieces to the $10.3 million flood mitigation project after the 2013 flood in the MD of Bighorn.
It also represents an important pedestrian connection for the community that has been missing for more than six years, according to Reeve Dene Cooper.
"The new bridge re-establishes an important community connection to Exshaw Creek and provides walking and biking access for our residents as part of the Exshaw trail system," Cooper said in a press release.
"The new bridge symbolizes completion of the Exshaw Creek flood mitigation project."
The bridge, which was previously known as the "Yellow Bridge," was damaged in the 2013 flood and did not initially have secured funding when the project plans were revealed at the beginning of this year at an open house in January.
The $10.3 million flood mitigation project had several major components including a debris retention structure, channel evacuation, construction of a sediment pond, weir and spillway and installation of channeling amouring.
Funding was secured through the federal government at the tune of $1.9 million, the provincial government kicked in $3.3 million and Lafarge committed $3.7 million in material and land.
Originally the MD had pledged to fund the replacement for the 16-metre pedestrian bridge, recognizing it as an important aspect of the flood mitigation project, but Alberta Transportation ended up announcing up to $283,500 in funding for the bridge in April.
It was also brought up in a June council meeting if concrete or steel should be used to construct the new bridge, as a concrete bridge was revealed in the original project plans, but estimates showed a cost saving with a steel bridge. Council ultimately decided to go with a steel replacement.
MD of Bighorn CAO Rob Ellis said the new 37-metre pedestrian bridge, which more than doubled in length due to the widening of the creek, ended up costing approximately $500,000, which also includes the construction of the bridge abutments in the creek channel.
"The MD of Bighorn is proud to have completed the project on time and on budget," Ellis said in the press release.
As of last week, the major construction aspects of the project were complete with the minor construction portions to be completed next spring.
The rest of the work includes top soiling and seeding the rest of the locations, landscaping of the 7.5 meter wide strip of Municipal Reserve land on the east side of the creek, grouting of the pedestrian bridge deck panel and articulated concrete block mattresses, installation of the air quality monitoring station and other miscellaneous items.
With the main construction completed, the fence will be removed from the creek around mid-November giving residents a chance to check out the new bridge and walking paths, also allowing parking on the Windridge Road.