The County of Stettler council heard some very good news for residents in and around the Village of Big Valley: an important access bridge that’s in deplorable condition will be replaced this summer.
Councillors read and discussed a detailed report at their June 14 regular meeting regarding Bridge File 07577, also referred to as the Big Valley bridge, which was the result of a request from Coun. Dave Grover, who represents the ward surrounding the village.
County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy, referring to the bridge as “the first entrance” to Big Valley, noted the structure technically belongs to the provincial government, but the county has an agreement to maintain the structure while Alberta Transportation maintains the access road itself.
“It’s the weirdest arrangement,” said Cassidy.
The County of Stettler report began, “In Dec., 2019, a bridge inspection (BIM inspection) noted severe corrosion of the main reinforcement bars and stirrups on girder 7, resulting in load rating of 10 tonnes being placed on the structure.”
The report noted it’s not difficult to determine why the bridge is in bad condition. “The existing structure was installed in 1958 and is 61 years old. Table 11.2 in Alberta Transportation’s ‘BIM Inspection Manual’ Version 4 lists 50 years as a ‘high life expectancy’ for PG girder standard bridges,” stated the report.
Cassidy explained the County of Stettler received a 75/25 per cent funding commitment from Alberta Transportation, with the 25 per cent coming from local municipalities, specifically the county and Village of Big Valley.
The CAO noted she contacted the Village of Big Valley to discuss the project, and the village confirmed some money had been earmarked for this project but councillors had to meet formally over the decision.
Cassidy stated the County of Stettler wanted to keep as much of this project “in-house” as possible to control costs, and the preliminary outlook is positive: the bridge replacement should come in under budget.
She noted there was more good news as well: it seems there is a paving contractor scheduled to be working in the Big Valley region on Sec. Hwy. #590 up to Hwy. #21 this summer and part of their work appears to be paving the access road that the Big Valley bridge sits on.
Cassidy stated the County of Stettler is trying to coordinate all of the factors in play so that the bridge can be replaced at the same time the access road is paved so both projects can be completed together.
Councillors asked about the project’s budget, and staff responded that it looks like the local share of the project should be about $80,000 with the assumption it will be split 50/50 with the Village of Big Valley, plus about $10,000 added for bridge paving.
It was also noted that since the work is being done in-house, the County of Stettler may expect some reimbursement for certain work performed by municipal staff.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions on this bridge,” said Clarke.
Coun. James Nibourg warned that coordination between the Sec. Hwy. #590 and bridge road projects was needed to avoid both accesses to Big Valley being closed at the same time.
During discussion, the topic of Mckenzie Crossing bridge located on Sec. Hwy. #590 also came up.
Coun. Justin Stevens noted the corrosion on the bridge was alarming and ditch erosion was also quite concerning. Nibourg added the highway in that area is rough enough to loosen teeth.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution for County of Stettler staff to discuss a 50/50 cost sharing arrangement for this bridge project with the Village of Big Valley.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 29, 2023