ATHABASCA — Athabasca County has extended the closure of two bridge structures.
Of the over 200 bridges in the county, four have had to be closed pending repair, replacement, or permanent removal, but two needed the approval of the council allowing administration to continue with their closure during their Dec. 13 regular meeting.
“As reported earlier to council during inspections of our infrastructure, two major bridge/culvert structures suffered damage that may lead (to) the creation of a hazard to the structures,” CAO Chris Parker said.
One of the bridges, on the old Colinton highway north of the hamlet, has been closed since May following a washout behind the northwest wing wall, head slope, and side slope.
“Fill from this washout was exposing the bearing piles along with backwall and wingwall piles,” Parker said. "Sloughing occurred at the embankment adjacent to the northeast wing wall. Due to these issues, the bridge was closed for the safety of the travelling public.”
Associated Engineering investigated in June 2022 and identified a repair strategy to extend the life by 15 years at a cost of $417,000.
“In early July we retained MPA Engineering for a three-year bridge consultant contract,” he said. “Staff asked MPA to assess this structure to determine the best course of action.”
MPA said full replacement would be the best option and would significantly reduce the risk of high flow events causing damage.
The other structure is a culvert north of Ellscott on Township Road 642, west of Range Road 200, that was inspected in June and a hole was noticed above the downstream end of the culvert.
“Further investigation identified that water was starting to flow through the seams and piping outside the culvert. Due to safety concerns, the bridge culvert was closed to traffic,” he said.
There are currently 100 bridge or culvert structures across the county needing various amounts of repair or replacement with projected costs over $150 million and administration is looking for grant funding to help cover the expense.
Council approved the bridge and culvert closures to remain in effect until Nov. 20, 2023.