Highway 22 bridge work should be done by May
Black Diamond: Associate minister assures town of progress
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am
Provincial officials in Black Diamond last week assured local leaders and residents that work to shore up the Sheep River’s banks by the Highway 22 bridge will be ready by the time water levels rise this year.
Kyle Fawcett, associate minister for recovery and reconstruction of southwest Alberta, said the $800,000 project is on track and should be completed by mid-May.
“The berm along this area and some of the protection along here will hopefully be done,” he said. “The timelines are tight, but hopefully we’ll get it done.”
The river embankment around the bridge is being fortified against flooding to protect the bridge structure. The work is intended to direct water under the bridge and prevent the river from eroding away land around it, like it did in last year’s flood.
Between 8,000 and 9,000 vehicles use the bridge everyday and Fawcett said the mitigation work will protect it from future floods.
“I think we’ll be in better shape than we were before last year’s flood, knowing that the water flow down this river was a minimum one-in-100 year event I think we’re going to be in very good shape,” he said.
Last year the flood washed away 100 meters of earth on the east side of the bridge.
“It really looked like a bridge to nowhere, there was nothing wrong with the bridge, but it didn’t go anywhere because the road was washed out by about 100 meters,” he said.
It took crews working for two weeks to rebuild the approach and re-open the bridge.
Fawcett said the bridge is also an example of how far the provincial government has come in the recovery process last year and also how much work is left to do.
He said the Province is working to get as much flood mitigation work completed before this year’s flood season as possible.
“The goal is to make sure that the priorities are identified where we may be particularly vulnerable this year, to make sure that work is done ahead of time,” said Fawcett.
He noted the provincial budget includes $110 million in funding dedicated over the next three years to protection transportation infrastructure against flooding, adding $86 million will be spent this year.
Fawcett said the work is not about flood proofing, which is ultimately not possible. The goal is to do the best to build infrastructure that is better able to withstand flooding, he added.
“What we can do is create infrastructure and communities that are more resilient, that do have added layers of protection,” said Fawcett. “That’s what our mitigation strategy’s all about.”
He said the provincial government is committed to supporting the recovery process through the long haul.
Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck praised the work Fawcett has done to shepherd flood projects in the foothills.
She said support from the Province has allowed municipalities in the foothills to go ahead with mitigation projects they might not have been able to do on their own.
“We were able to move forward with projects, that without their help we wouldn’t have been able to do,” she said.