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Barrhead County asks for help replacing aging infrastructure

County of Barrhead council OKs STIP grant applications
Infrastructure director Ken Hove walks County of Barrhead councillors through four new bridge and culvert files that the municipality hopes to receive Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) for during the Nov. 21 council meeting.

BARRHEAD - The County of Barrhead hopes to get financial help repairing four aging bridges and culverts with estimated repair costs totalling more than $1.4 million.

On Nov. 21, councillors unanimously authorized reeve Doug Drozd to sign Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) applications through the local road bridge program for four prospective bridge/culvert projects.

The program allows municipalities to receive 75 per cent of the funding for approved infrastructure projects. The province created STIP to help municipalities solve their infrastructure deficit, boost the economy, and create jobs as part of its response to the coronavirus.

Infrastructure director Ken Hove explained that the county performs annual inspections of bridges and culverts with life cycles of 57 months or less per structure.

Through this process, public works identified four structures with low-rating advisories that require substantial repairs or replacements.

The first project is a bridge repair estimated at $214,000.

Hove said the bridge, located north of Highway 33 near Camp Creek just off of Range Road 45 about three km south of Township Road 614., is a two-span bridge constructed in 1958.

"The substructure has a poor condition rating and requires replacement of several piles and caps," he said.

The other three projects identified are culverts, which were constructed in 1958, 1960 and 1971. All are rated as "very poor" with replacement costs of between $340,000 and $465,000. Only one is identified for replacement in the 10-year capital plan.

County manager Debbie Oyarzun said that typically, councillors would not have to have the reeve sign off on the applications.

However, the extra step was required as three projects had yet to receive previous approval, i.e., were not on the 10-year capital plan.

She also noted that by authorizing the reeve to sign the applications, councillors were also consenting to add the missing projects to the capital plan, contingent on funding approval.

Deputy reeve Marvin Schatz asked if Hove listed the projects in order of importance. Oyarzun said yes but added that the province had its own selection criteria, and there was no guarantee that they would line up or even approve the projects for funding.

Coun. Walter Preugschas asked why the county did not include three projects in its 10-year capital plan. Hove replied that the process is always ongoing, and five years ago, when the county inspected the structures, they were in better condition, and other projects were a higher priority.

"Things can change significantly in five years, especially when dealing with old infrastructure. It is always a bit of a moving target," he said.

Coun. Paul Properzi added that many of the county's roads, bridges and culverts also have to deal with loads that the planners of the day never anticipated.

"Who would have ever thought [in the 1950s and '60s] that farmers would be moving 2,000 bushels of grain on these roads?" he said.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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