At its Oct. 23 meeting, Peace River town council directed administration to apply for a grant to help fund the bridge over the Heart River to 12 Foot Davis Events Park.

“This bridge over the Heart River leading to the events park has a long history,” says Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“Some of the truss fabrication dates to 1921 and the present structure was installed in the present location in 1975 when the previous structure washed out during a flood in 1974,” she adds.

“So, the structure is showing its wear and over the last few years, load restrictions have been imposed downwards from the original 12 tons.”

Manzer says this has impacted the type of events that can be held in the park and more repairs will be needed over the next decade.

“The Town has had an engineering study completed in 2022,” she says. “The study has noted rot on structural members which effects the load bearing capacity, issues with the bridge bearings which will require replacement, parts of the bridge are subject to loading which they were not designed to accommodate and the need to replace bridge rail and handrail.

“Essentially, the bridge is showing its age and needs work to maintain its usability.”

The Town will be applying for the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) grant for a total of $625,000. This would account for about half of the anticipated costs of completing all recommended work, says Manzer.

The Town would have to accumulate 25 per cent of the grant total.

“The Town can apply annually for the STIP grant, providing studies and inspections have been completed to reflect the anticipated work,” Manzer explains.

“Council also realizes that STIP funding is very completive with other municipalities but also realizes it is important to get on the provincial lists for this grant. It also provides the provincial government with the opportunity to enhance the financial sustainability of the town by helping to upkeep Town Infrastructure in this project.”

Manzer says the project also helps the town with one of their strategic goals of maintaining a physically connected community.

“The Town would look to reserves and possible adjustments in other capital projects, if we do get the STIP funding,” she explains.

“The bridge is part of the Town’s active transportation plan and provides access to a beautiful park that is being used presently but not to its full potential as an events park.”

Manzer says although the anticipated cost in this phase was estimated in 2022 at $625,000, there will likely be some unanticipated costs like electrical, more engineering costs, and likely inflated material costs.

“A full bridge replacement would likely be over $2 million by the time everything is accounted for in designing and replacing the structure,” Manzer says.

“If the application is not successful for this round, council will again discuss reapplying. At the same time, the Town will continue to do the inspections required to ensure the structure is safe for its reduced capacity,”she concludes.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 01, 2023 at 10:50