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MD council receives bridge management plan

Monday, 08 August 2022. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

MD council receives bridge management plan
By Sean Oliver
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


“Build bridges, not walls” is a popular refrain advocated as sound governing advice. In terms of literal construction, however, bridges take a lot of work and capital investment to build and keep in good maintenance.

To that end, the MD of Pincher Creek commissioned Roseke Engineering this past spring to create a 10-year bridge report on the conditions of each individual MD bridge. Council reviewed the report during its July 12 meeting.

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Each bridge was given a rating indicating its condition and the maintenance action required. A 10-year prioritization list summarizes the 40 highest-priority structures and recommended courses of action, along with the 10 bridges that should be the MD’s highest priority for capital projects over the next decade.

The MD has 160 bridges, of which 106 are culverts, 38 are standard bridges and 16 are considered major bridges. The average construction date of all bridges in the MD is 1969.

Bridges are typically designed to have a lifespan of 75 years and bridge culverts usually last 50 years; 60 per cent of the MD’s bridge structures therefore need replacing within 10 years.

Reeve Rick Lemire said the report’s information was valuable for the municipality to have.

“We all talk asset management, how it’s important to know what’s out there and what we got to look forward to in the next budget,” he said.

“This is good management, this is good for the liability of the MD. It’s too bad we don’t have one for all we do in terms of roads — it’s great information to have.”

Although the report’s pricing for bridge repairs and replacements 10 years down the road is only an estimation, David Desabrais, the MD’s director of capital projects, said the estimates are a valuable tool that will give council a sense of where bridge maintenance fits in future budgets.

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“The information is still valuable for a comparison’s sake when making decisions,” he said. “Even if you do get 30 per cent swing, you’re going to have that with any type of bridge or culvert and you can still make budget decisions off of this.”

As it happens, the bridge management report came into immediate use for council.

The bridge for Range Road 15 over a second tributary to Castle River is one of the lowest-rated bridges included in the report. Currently, the bridge requires inspection and monitoring every six months. Given the structural deterioration, the report suggested council move ahead with engineering work so construction could begin next year.

Desabrais said the MD usually completes three to four bridge projects a year and, with only two planned in 2023, the Castle River tributary bridge would fit right into the MD’s schedule. 

“This would be keeping with the pace of our bridge asset management,” he said. “If we do any bridge work next year, this would be my highest-priority bridge to deal with.”

Council approved $30,000 from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative to complete the engineering work on the bridge in preparation for construction next year.

The next regular MD council meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 23, 6 p.m. in council chambers.