Above: The River Valley Alliance (RVA), joined by the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur, Sturgeon County Deputy Mayor Dan Derouin, and Eleanor McMahon, President and CEO of Trans Canada Trail and other funding partners from AB Transportation and AB Parks hosted the official ribbon cutting for the Highway 15 Underslung Pedestrian Bridge, connecting the longest river valley pedestrian trail in North America. – submitted photo
Milestone Connects the Longest River Valley Pedestrian Trail in North America
by Morinville Online Staff
The River Valley Alliance (RVA) hosted the official ribbon cutting for the Highway 15 Underslung Pedestrian Bridge on Monday morning. The bridge is the final stage of the Highway 15 Bridge Twinning Project and connects the longest river valley pedestrian trail in North America, spanning 100 kilometers through six municipalities from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan. The pedestrian portion of the bridge and trail is named Amisk Wacîw Mêskanaw (Beaver Hill Road) in nêhiyawêwin (Cree), supporting the RVA’s Plan of Action for trail connectivity.
All funding partners contributed a combined total of approximately $5.5 million to the underslung portion of the bridge, including trail connections to the new bridge deck. Now that the underslung portion of the bridge is officially open to the public, pedestrians and cyclists can access transportation routes along the West/Sturgeon County side of the river to trails on the East/Fort Saskatchewan side of the river.
The underslung portion of the bridge received contributions totalling around $5.5 million from all funding partners, covering trail connections to the new bridge deck. With its official opening to the public, pedestrians and cyclists can now access transportation routes on both sides of the river – the West/Sturgeon County side and the East/Fort Saskatchewan side.
“As we look to the future, it’s vitally important that we keep making investments in public transit infrastructure across Alberta,” Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, The Honourable Sean Fraser, said in a media release Monday afternoon. “The new Highway 15 underslung pedestrian bridge will make it easier for community members to choose safe, clean, and affordable transportation options. Investments like these make our communities better places to live, work and play.”
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, said the federal government continues to invest in modern, inclusive public infrastructure that builds healthy, connected, and vibrant communities across Alberta. “Through our work with the River Valley Alliance, we’ve increased connectivity between Sturgeon County and Fort Saskatchewan,” Boissonnault said. “The new Highway 15 Underslung Pedestrian Bridge will give residents and visitors a safe and accessible pedestrian crossing to the River Valley Trail and surrounding areas.”
River Valley Alliance Executive Director Kristine Archibald said the new pedestrian bridge is an important connection toward the River Valley Alliance’s goal of creating the longest river valley pedestrian trail in North America. “The trail, recently named Amisk Wacîw Mêskanaw (Beaver Hill Road) in nêhiyawêwin (the Cree language), acts as a unifier by connecting communities with each other and with nature while encouraging active transportation,” Archibald said. “It also creates opportunities for place-based information sharing that encourages us to reflect upon the region’s history and the importance of preserving our natural green spaces. Our partnerships with all levels of government are key to realizing this infrastructure that will become an iconic legacy for residents and visitors alike.”
Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said the pedestrian bridge is a symbol of progress and unity for the region and that by connecting the communities they are creating opportunities to bring people and possibilities together.
“As one of the six partner municipalities of the River Valley Alliance, we are committed to the vision of connecting people to and through the North Saskatchewan River Valley,” Hnatiw said. “We also recognize and honour the importance these pathways have to the First Nations and Métis Peoples who first marked these trails and crossings. We look forward to walking these paths together and building stronger bridges of understanding, unity and connections.”
Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur said the city was pleased to see this connection to the Amisk Wacîw Mêskanaw trail completed so residents and visitors can explore the entirety of this wonderful river valley. “We are proud to support this underslung bridge and look forward to its frequent use. We are happy to have provided a portion of the funding that made this project a reality,” Ketchur said.