by Colin Smith
Additional repairs to Morinville streets and sidewalks this summer may be an unexpected result of damage to the Little Egg Creek Bridge.
Also known as the Manawan Canal Bridge, the structure on East Boundary Road was damaged May 11 when a Sturgeon County grader hit deck girders, knocking them out of alignment.
The bridge was immediately closed for a structural engineering assessment, resulting in a nine-kilometre detour for users such as commuters and school buses. It was re-opened on March 17 under single-lane control.
The engineering assessment came up with a solution to the girder damage. It also revealed that the bridge built in 1967 had significant deterioration to its substructure, including piles and shoring.
At the June 14 regular Town Council meeting, Infrastructure Services Manager John Betteridge presented two options for dealing with the bridge.
The first option would see the bridge girder damage repaired by Sturgeon County, with no rehabilitation work done on the substructure.
Betteridge told council that since the substructure deterioration and its attendant risks have been now detected, the town would have to conduct inspections on the bridge every two years. A four- to six-year lifespan is anticipated for it.
The structure was last examined in 2014, at which point some damage was noted, and minor repairs were done in 2018.
Under option two, recommended by the administration, the town would partner with Sturgeon County on its bridge tender, to have necessary substructure rehabilitation work done at the same time as the girder damage repair.
According to Betteridge, this will enable the town to reduce costs through joint tendering and utilizing Sturgeon County’s bridge engineering consultant.
Morinville would pay for the substructure rehabilitation, estimated at $120,000 including contingency, which would extend the life of the bridge by 10 to 15 years.
Asked by Councillor Ray White if replacement rather than repair of the bridge had been considered, Betteridge said that was considered but pointed to the expense.
“To redo the bridge, including demolition, would cost well over half a million dollars,” he said.
To cover the cost of the bridge repair under option two, administration recommended that council amend the 2022 Capital Budget to pull $120,000 from this year’s Road Rehabilitation Program, a decrease from $880,400 to $760,400.
Betteridge indicated the funds had become available because underground work budgeted as part of road rehabilitation was found to be unnecessary.
Council quickly approved the administration’s recommendation.
The Sturgeon County bridge tender is closing later this month, and completion of the bridge rehabilitation project is expected this year, stated Betteridge.
Following the passage of the measure, Councillor Scott Richardson put forward the idea of using $120,000 of reserve funds for additional road and sidewalk rehabilitation this season.
Richardson moved that the administration provide council with a list of road, sidewalk and trail rehabilitation projects that could be done with $120,000 during this construction season.
The motion passed unanimously.