A contract to upgrade a major bridge south of High Prairie has been approved by Big Lakes County.

At its regular meeting June 28, council awarded a $1,067,775 tender to upgrade a bridge on the Gilwood Road to Lafarge Canada.

Funding for the project will come from the Canada Community Building Fund.

Work is scheduled to start before September and the contractor has scheduled 75 site days to complete the job, said Kevin Cymbaluk, director of public works.

He noted the project may not be completed in 2023 and may be extended into 2024.

The bridge is located on Gilwood Road about 100 metres west of Highway 749.

“It is one of our nine major bridge structures that provides critical connectivity in this area of the municipality,” Cymbaluk said.

The project is included in the 2023 budget.

During the upgrade, traffic will still be able to use the bridge. Construction includes superstructure and substructure repairs.

Cymbaluk presented other options that would have closed the bridge.

However, council agreed it is important to keep the bridge open to traffic.

“Keep the bridge open,” South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart said.

North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk agreed.

“We have to keep the bridge open.”

Tenders came in over the construction budget of $738,375 and the total budget of $938,441, which included engineering and contingency, Cym- baluk said. He suggested council reduce the costs by postponing some of the work that could be completed later.

However, council wanted the full project completed.

“We should just get it totally done,” Stewart said.

The existing bridge was constructed in 1980 and was last upgraded in 2004 when a strip seal deck joint was installed.

“To ensure the design service life of the bridge is achieved, a significant rehabilitation is required in the next few years,” Cymbaluk told council.

The annual budgeted maintenance program for all 85 bridges and bridge structures has been about $500,000 a year over the past few years, he reported.

“However, when one of our nine major structures requires significant maintenance (as in the Gilwood bridge), the non-capital maintenance budget increases significantly,” Cymbaluk said.

The upcoming project is estimated to require about 100 hours of staff time to supervise and co-ordinate.

by Richard Froese

This item copyrighted by   AlbertaChat.com / South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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