This bridge could cost as much as $82 million to replace, if somebody will pay for it.

The bottom line on a new bridge over the Athabasca River at Smith looks like this: Somewhere between $45 million and $82 million, depending on the kind of bridge the M.D. can live with. Or, to put a finer point on it, what kind of a bridge the province decides it will pay for.

If it does.

The information came from Associated Engineering at a special information session in Smith on Jan. 12, organized by the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. First, Associated presented a ‘business case,’ which mainly had to do with various funding possibilities. Next, they spoke about the condition of the bridge (not good). Lastly, the engineers proposed a scenario that would see some repairs to the current structure, while at the same time the planning on a replacement would commence – culminating in a new bridge in 2027.

It was at that point that councillor Brad Pearson pressed for the cost estimate.

If you go with a two-lane bridge, located away from the north slope slide zone, said Associated’s Jessica Gagne, $82 million. If you settle for a one-lane bridge next to the existing one (thus less road relocation expense), “upwards of $45 million.”

Gagne’s colleague Jen Plamondon called it “a big undertaking,” and predicted “a tough road ahead.”

After lunch, the M.D. and engineers were expecting several prospective bidders on the bridge pier work contract to show up to have a look at the site. The M.D. has applied for something like $600,000 in STIP funding to cover the cost, but has decided to go ahead regardless, due to the scouring around the support pier. It has gotten worse in recent years.

Also present at the Jan. 12 meeting were Lesser Slave MLA Pat Rehn, NDP candidate Danielle Larivee, reps from Alberta Transportation and a TV news crew.

January 17, 2023

by Joe McWilliams

This item copyrighted by   TheRegional.com / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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