Fort Saskatchewan city councillors all agreed to go with the least expensive choice when faced with three options for getting a Clover Park bridge back into usable condition.
 
The bridge, located at the southwest corner of Clover Park over Ross Creek, is still used by pedestrians but was closed to vehicle traffic in 2009, leaving residents with limited ways to get in and out of the neighbourhood during emergencies.
 
The city spent $50,000 on design plans for a proposed $415,00 prefabricated replacement for the 1965-built bridge. Staff asked council to approve funding for the project at a July meeting -- councillors hit pause on the idea, voting instead to have the city find out more information about the condition of the existing bridge.
 
The city hired engineering firm WSP to assess the bridge, with staff sharing the firm’s findings on Tuesday.
 
"The bridge condition assessment rated the structural condition of the existing bridge and a load rating analysis was completed. Repair and replacement alternatives were looked at. And a cost estimate and economic analysis was completed," city engineering coordinator Joey Farebrother told council.
 
The engineering report included three options for getting the pedestrian bridge once again safe for vehicle traffic in urgent situations, ranging from monitoring the structure to repairing or replacing it.
 
At $439,321 plus yearly maintenance costs of $5,500, replacement was the most expensive option. The repair price tag came in at $178,000 plus $7,190 per year in maintenance. Council voted unanimously to go the with most budget-friendly route, approving the $33,000 cost of having the structure brought back to safe standards and then monitored, with replacement scheduled for 10 to 15 years down the road. The  $7,190 annual operating costs for this option will cover maintenance, snow removal and regular inspections. 
 
The $33,000 will also cover the cost of having jersey barriers installed over some of the bridge girders, a move that will reduce the bridge’s lane width to 4.5 metres.
 
Councillor Gordon Harris said at the meeting that he’d like to see the parks department clean up some of the vegetation growing around the bridge.
 
"It needs to look better and ultimately do whatever can be done to make that structure a habitable, reasonable walkway and also an appropriate emergent access as required,” he said. "So hopefully that can be managed within that budget."

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