Province to protect roads, bridges from floods

Foothills: MD Reeve hopes to use funds for Three Point Creek

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am

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The provincial government is committing $110 million to cover repairs to flood damaged roads and to protect transportation infrastructure in high-risk areas.

Alberta transportation spokesperson Parker Hogan said the provincial government has come along way in completing repairs to roads and bridges damaged in the June flood and the funding will help to protect against further damage in the future.

“It’s for the identification and the strengthening of existing infrastructure, be it roads or bridges or culverts or other things to fortify them to withstand other flood events,” he said.

Over the next three years, $70 million will be spent on long-term mitigation work to protect sites that are vulnerable to flooding, primarily along the eastern slopes.

Projects could include putting large boulders in place near bridges and highways to prevent erosion, building berms to control debris and ponds to store water. The Province will also look at increasing the size of structures that aren’t large enough to allow water to flow through them during a flood.

Hogan said provincial officials will work with municipalities to determine high-priority, critically important projects that will be on the top of the list. He said roads and bridge structures are being assessed to determine which ones will need work to strengthen them against additional flooding in the future. After June’s flood, the provincial government inspected more than 300 bridges and culverts and more than 1,000 km of roads.

“While there may be wish lists coming from areas, those will all have to be looked at across the entire spectrum of the eastern slopes,” said Hogan.

Ultimately, he said it’s hoped construction will be able to start in the spring.

The remaining $40 million in funding will cover the cost of work to repair road damage that has already been done at a number of sites since the flood, including rebuilding Secondary Highway 758 near Bragg Creek.

“We’ve done a significant amount of mitigation and repair work already,” said Hogan. “We’ve re-opened a little bit more than 90 per cent of the roads that were closed as a result of the flood or damaged as a result of the flood.”

Officials with the MD of Foothills are evaluating the new grant program to determine what it will cover.

MD Reeve Larry Spilak is hopeful the municipality will be able to use the fund $70 million to help pay for flood protection projects along the foothills.

“I think much of that will be spent in the MD only because if we can mitigate the flood before it gets to High River it will help everybody,” said MD Reeve Larry Spilak.

Spilak believes part of the $70 million fund could go to work to repair flood damage along Three Point Creek.

Several homes and properties along the creek suffered serious damage in the flood, including a gas pipeline and a communal water well that were left exposed.

“That’s an area that will need to be repaired and put back the way it was,” said Spilak.

In the mean time, he said the MD still has a number of short-term projects, including bridge repairs and culvert replacements, that need to be done. However, Spilak said it hasn’t received any funding from the provincial government to do them.

He said funding requests the MD has submitted to the province to date would cover the cost of engineering work to study mitigation projects. However, he said the MD is still waiting to hear if it’s requests will be approved.

“We also have a great deal to do on the short term and to date we have not received any funding from the Province to do with flood mitigation,” said Spilak.


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