Four options for the Maxwell Lake bridge were presented to council at their recent standing committee meeting, including lowering the bridge structure, balustrades, and ramps.
Council will make a decision on which option moves forward at the Aug. 24 regular council meeting.
Based on council’s recent request, the rationale behind lowering the bridge is that the structure will blend in with the surrounding environment, mimic the elevation of the former bridge to some extent, and assist with more gradual approach grades of the adjoining boardwalk, explained Hinton’s communication coordinator, Carlos Tenias Gil.
The cost estimate for modifying the balustrades is $81,000. Winston Rossouw, Hinton’s director of development and infrastructure services, explained the high cost is because the handrail is a primary structural member providing stability to the entire structure. Lowering this handrail by a predetermined amount without addressing strength and stability issues is not a possibility.
Coun. Dewly Nelson questioned if lowering the structure impacts any other costs of the project, like the landing, ramps, and screw piles.
Administration noted that lowering the bridge will not lower project cost, in fact it will increase project cost. It will also assist with improving walkway use by all parties, including wheelchairs.
Lowering the bridge would require a hydrotechnical investigation to ensure that the regulatory requirements are satisfied and met under the Code of Practice, noted Rossouw. This study ranges from $25,000 to $$40,000.
“One of the original conversations we had was if we lower the bridge, you’ll require less grade for boardwalk and potentially you could be saving on the cost of the boardwalk that’s built up to the bridge. For me, I struggle with spending $32,000, plus the study, to lower a bridge by that far on a pretty big structure,” Nelson said.
Administration has been working with an engineering firm and contractor to evaluate construction methodologies and determine project cost options reflective of the scope of work. CAO Emily Olsen noted that the new Beaver Boardwalk Community Oversight Committee made up of nine locals will not be organized in time to review the options and make recommendations.
Option one is the most expensive and has the largest environmental impact due to required instream work. This option means a reduced handrail height from 1400mm to 1067mm, a lower bridge structure by approximately 450mm above high-water elevation, and improved connectivity provided via boardwalk approaches.
Option two is the same as option one, but excludes the lowering of the bridge elevation.
Option three would not modify the bridge, but simply add in boardwalk approaches on both sides.
The fourth and cheapest option is removal and salvaging the bridge. Rossouw said that salvaging the bridge means looking for another purpose within the Town, finding an interested buyer, or storing it until a purpose or buyer is found.
Coun. Trevor Haas questioned why there was no option to remove the bridge and construct another boardwalk bridge. Rossouw explained that a new pedestrian bridge would cost around $100,000 and the ICIP–COVID-19 resilience stream grant would not cover the replacement of another bridge.
Nelson then asked if the ICIP grant could be shifted to fund portions of the boardwalk repair, if removal of the bridge was chosen. Rossouw said that would be a question administration would look into. He added that if removal of the bridge is chosen, some citizens want the bridge gone with no replacement and no new water crossing.
“To remove it, I struggle even environmentally and ecologically to go in and put all the rig matts down and do all the work to pull out a bridge just to go back in and start disrupting it again,” Nelson said.
Council gave direction on April 27, 2021 to construct the Maxwell Lake Bridge ramps to allow pedestrian access only with a budget of $125,000, and that the total budget for the Maxwell Lake Bridge rehabilitation project must not exceed $251,000.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice