Boyd bridge redesign in 2018 proposed budget

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An Okotoks councillor has asked for public input on a planned redesign of an iconic pedestrian bridge over the Sheep River.

“In regards to the Laurie Boyd bridge replacement when that design is completed is it possible to put that out to the public to comment on the design,” asked Coun. Matt Rockley at town council’s Nov. 14 meeting.

The Laurie Boyd Bridge, which crosses the Sheep River just southeast of the Okotoks Public Library, was on the books for a $2.7 million redesign in the Town’s budgetary proposals which were announced last week.

The bridge is named in memory of Laurie Boyd, a 16-year-old from Okotoks who was abducted and murdered while working at a local Red Rooster convenience store in 1982.

Okotoks CAO Elaine Vincent said at the public meeting the designs would be done along the principles approved by council in the integrated mobility plan.

She said an enhanced picture of the proposed redesign will be in the councillors’ report as they prepare to set the upcoming budget and will provide council some options.

“It does have some pluses to it,” Vincent told council. “Council does have the option of removing some of those pluses to reduce the cost. But we felt those additional investments in terms of how it looks were important because it is such an iconic movement across the town.

“We generally don’t go and consult the public on a design, unless council wanted to provide direct direction to do so. It puts us in a very difficult spot to manage those expectations.”

The redesign would widen the bridge for greater pedestrian and bicycle traffic use as well to allow for emergency vehicle access if needed.

At present, it is difficult for pedestrians to cross the bridge if they are walking side-by-side or if approaching another pedestrian or cyclist coming from the other direction.

The widening of the bridge is part of an Okotoks transportation plan to improve walkability to the Sheep River and the downtown core. Other redesigns included the widening of Veterans Way sidewalks earlier this year.

Council and ratepayers may get a break in regards to the total cost of the bridge redesign as there is the potential for selling the present bridge. One community, which Vincent did not name, has shown interest.

The crossing was dedicated to Laurie Boyd in 1995.

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