Wheatland County will be supporting the replacement of Bridge 11, of the 11 Bridges of Wayne, following a request for financial assistance from the Town of Drumheller.
The existing bridge was originally constructed in 1931, and is a 30.5 meter steel pony truss superstructure with a timber wearing surface.
The most recent inspections of the bridge, completed in November 2018, revealed significant section loss of the steel trusses due to corrosion. Due to this, the weight limit on the bridge has been restricted, and it has been declared to have reached the end of its service life.
Bridge 11, or BF 9315, crosses the Rosebud River, located at the end of Highway 10X, just south of Wayne.
Administration had identified the bridge to be of strategic importance, as it serves as one of the only points of access to the community of Wayne.
Though technically located within the corporate limits of the Town of Drumheller, it is a key access point for many Wheatland ratepayers, according to council.
“We do have a number of ratepayers [who] do use that bridge … it’s an important city access for those ratepayers,” said Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link.
The total cost of the bridge replacement will be approximately $3.2 million. The Town of Drumheller will be receiving a grant from the Province of Alberta to cover 75 per cent of the costs, totaling just over $2.4 million.
Wheatland County was asked by the Town of Drumheller to cover $120,487.50, which equates to 15 per cent of the $803,250 funding gap.
Council decided to fully fund the request, against administration’s recommendation to only fund $40,000 of the project.
Link explained the decision was made for purposes including maintaining a good relationship with Drumheller, ensuring the project was able to move forward, and supporting local tourism.
“In the grand scheme of our budget, it isn’t necessarily [a large investment], but of course, one of our highest priorities this year has been [finding] fiscal efficiencies and looking for ways to cut our budget,” she said. “The risk I saw with that … is that if we weren’t willing to contribute as a municipality, there [was] the possibility that the Town of Drumheller wouldn’t go ahead with the repair either, and then you’re losing that full $3.2 million of investment into the bridge overall.”
Link noted one of the motivations to support the project, is the 11 Bridges of Wayne are a tourist attraction.
The 11 Bridges of Wayne boast the Guinness World Record for the most bridges in the shortest distance.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times