News / Edmonton

Mill Creek Ravine bridges slated for safety improvements

The city is set to improve five bridges along the trail system to bring them up to modern specifications.

Sandra Gaherty is a pedestrian advocate who's looking forward to modernized bridges in and around Mill Creek Ravine.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

Sandra Gaherty is a pedestrian advocate who's looking forward to modernized bridges in and around Mill Creek Ravine.

Sandra Gaherty is looking forward to the Mill Creek Ravine pedestrian bridges getting some TLC.

The Ritchie resident and cycling advocate with Paths for People uses the aging infrastructure every day during her bike commute to and from work. She said it’s significant “to have a safe and pleasant route that you can use if you want to chose active transportation as an option.”

The city of Edmonton is set to update five bridges along the south central trail system.

The city's Nathan Stelmach explained the repairs are definitely needed.

“They’re very old and have been in place for many, many years. We're replacing them based on condition to be brought up to modern specifications.”

The work will be done on two glulam bridges and three are trestle bridges.

The two lower trail bridges will be replaced with compressed wooden structures while the trestle bridges will see rehabilitation, not replacement. They’re remnants of the Edmonton Yukon and Pacific Railway, built in the early 1900s. 

The decision to rehabilitate the structures came after more than 2,500 community members were surveyed. The majority of responses showed 87 per cent feel the Mill Creek Ravine trestle bridges have historic value and any work on them should replicate their current design.

Improvements planned for them are resurfacing, replacing handrails, widening as well as stabilization and erosion protection around the bridges. Stelmach outlined that 20 per cent of the current support columns will be salvaged and reused.

Access to the bridges was initially going to be closed off completely during the construction, however, Stelmach said the contractors involved may allow some pedestrian traffic.

“They’ve proposed a slightly different plan, whereby they’d facilitate people to walk the trails a little bit more freely during the construction period. We’re going to have a close look at their plan and see what makes sense.”

Meanwhile, Gaherty cautioned about the disruptions the construction can cause to bike and walking traffic.

“When you’re a cyclist or a pedestrian it’s a bigger deal than if you’re in a car if you have to be detoured.”

Other changes will be to trees and shrubs surrounding the structures. Vegetation within five metres of the bridges will get removed prior to construction in hopes to keep the wood dry and prevent rotting of the bridge structure.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in mid-October 2017 and be completed by April 2018. The effected communities will receive more information about the construction schedule and detour plans on July 11 during a public consultation.

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