During the regular council meeting on Oct. 27, the Municipal District of Taber council reviewed a plan to replace their existing bridges.
Currently, the M.D. has ten bridged that they would like to replace. Since there is now less traffic flow in those areas, council would like to petition the provincial government to replace them with culverts. The deal would be if the province bears the cost of replacing them, the M.D. would bear the cost of the culverts’ maintenance for now on.
“Within the municipal district of Taber is a lot of irrigation bridges,” said Brian Brewin, Reeve for the M.D. “Bridges are actually the responsibility of the province, over a certain size… We don’t need (some of the bridges) as irrigation. So, we’re thinking of putting possibly a culvert to replace where an existing bridge was. And what that would do is actually take it off the provincial list, and put it on as just a culvert.”
While bridges are a physical structure spanning a gap, able to hold heavy loads but costly to maintain and upkeep, a culvert is a structure – like a pipe or reinforced concrete – that runs underneath a road or like path to allow water to flow through it.
“A bridge is a million dollars, a culvert we can do for $50-60,000. Cost is a big thing.”
Previously, the bridges had been needed for irrigation. Now, since the irrigation district utilizes pipelines for excess water, the huge structures aren’t really needed, and can be downgraded to culverts for drainage purposes.
By replacing the existing bridges with culverts, the M.D. would bear the full responsibility of upkeep.
The provincial government has provided $119 million in funding to support the rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges in the new budget, the M.D hopes to take advantage of this funding for this project.
“We’re offering, to the province, that is they pay to downsize them, then we will look after them into the future,” said Brewin. “It’s a bit of a win-win; they get a lot off their files, we look after them after that.”