County might cut rural bridges loose

County of Stettler might consider ditching several bridges that are aging while provincial funding is drying up.

County of Stettler might consider ditching several bridges that are aging while provincial funding is drying up.

At its monthly meeting, county council heard a request from local residents who want a new bridge on Big Knife Creek on Township Road 40-0 near Botha and Red Willow, but offered only hope.

“We haven’t forgotten the problem,” said Reeve Wayne Nixon.

“We have discussed it at the provincial level and we will attempt to do what we can.”

Gary Konschuh and Brett Penosky appeared as a delegation after submitting a request to council to re-open the bridge that was closed in May and barricaded.

“Ratepayers in the area have been discussing the loss and the necessity of this bridge to the area,” stated the letter, which included the signatures of 10 residents.

While the county has made the bridge a No. 1 priority for funding from the provincial government bridge program for many years, it doesn’t meet traffic counts to support the criteria, said assistant chief administrative officer Yvette Cassidy.

“Alberta Transportation officials in Red Deer said funding for bridges has been cut,” said CAO Tim Fox, who noted that provincial funding for bridges is also being reduced in other Prairie provinces.

A temporary structure would cost the county from $100,000 to $150,000, estimated Dennis Nelson, the director of public works.

If the county does the job on its own, however, the project wouldn’t receive any funding from the province, Cassidy said.

“I think we’re pretty much on our own to fund this bridge,” said Coun. Greggory Jackson.

“The most feasible solution is to have a single-lane bridge.”

With 118 bridge structures in the county, and many in disrepair, Fox suggested that the county needs a study to determine criteria and policy to set priorities to upgrade bridges.

To plead for provincial funding, council urged the delegations and concerned residents to send letters to Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman, Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson and Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale.

Road construction cost-sharing

Council approved an updated policy to share costs to construct roads in subdivisions valued up to $20,000.

For multi-lot subdivisions, council also updated a policy to require hard surfacing or dust control of subdivision roads, township and range roads when a multi-lot subdivision is approved.

The policy requires a financial contribution from developers to pay for county road improvements.