Lac Ste. Anne County’s Straight Talk series of articles is designed to address some commonly occurring ratepayer questions and misconceptions. The articles also aim to highlight some of Administration’s important improvements and milestones in different areas. This week’s piece covers the County’s bridge maintenance program.
The County owns and maintains a total of 217 bridges. These structures are comprised of 72 short- span “standard” bridges, 133 bridge-sized culverts (culverts with a diameter of 1.5 m to 6.0 m), and 12 long-span “major” bridges. Until 2012, the County received significant Provincial grants to support the ongoing capital maintenance of its bridge infrastructure. Between 2012 and 2017, however, Lac Ste. Anne County received absolutely no provincial funding to support its bridge maintenance program. This lapse in funding caused severe maintenance deficiencies that eventually resulted in load restrictions and closed bridges.
In 2016, the County tendered and repaired seven bridges. Three critical bridges were opened to traffic at the end of December 2016, and the balance of the work was completed mid-March 2017. The total cost of this project was roughly $1 Million.
In 2017, the Provincial grant program was reintroduced as a competitive application program. Presently, however, grant funding amounts to just $37 million each year, and is intended for local road bridge maintenance projects across the entire province.
This same year, County Council adopted a long-range bridge infrastructure plan, which included 23 bridge projects at a cost of $3.3 million over the next ten years. The County retains a bridge engineering consultant to assess the condition of bridge structures. Based on inspections, priority projects are identified for major repairs or replacement and referred to in the capital budget.
In 2016, the County purchased two portable bridge structures to assist in maintaining transportation routes when bridges are undergoing major reconstruction. The 2016 capital included major repairs or reconstruction of 8 bridge structures. This $1.6 million expenditure in County infrastructure was funded in large part by the Federal Gas Tax Fund; a grant that provides predictable, long-term, stable funding that helps municipalities build and revitalize local public infrastructure while creating jobs and long term prosperity.