Eleven decaying pedestrian bridges in the Mill Creek Ravine will be replaced next year.
The roughly $3.55-million project was approved on Tuesday during city council’s urban planning committee.
A report by the City of Edmonton found the pedestrian bridges between 34 Street and 50 Street have deteriorated beyond the point of maintenance and need to be replaced. Detailed design work is expected to be completed this month with construction scheduled to start either this winter or early 2021.
The project is anticipated to be done in the fall.
The bridges are part of a popular pathway system often used by cyclists, dog walkers and others for recreational use in Mill Woods.
An environmental impact assessment report found the project will add some positive changes, including raising the heights of the bridges further away from the channels, more space by widening them, reduce tripping hazards and improving the structure’s overall aesthetic.
The report said while the bridges varied from site to site, there were common problems among all of them including rot, frost jacked piles and fill spilling out under backwalls.
The scope of work will include installing temporary bridges, possible grading, installing timber decking and bridge railing and completing backfill and earthwork. The report also noted there were no rare plants found in the area and there would be a low risk to fish and wildlife habitat.
The project is part of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan.
The city will announce which bridges will be closed during public information sessions. Some trail will be closed as well during the rehabilitation work.
Daniel Tyrkalo, a frequent user of the trails in Mill Creek, said he supported the city’s plan to replace the bridges if it was needed. The 34-year-old runner said he hopes the new bridges match the scenery in Mill Creek.
“I think there needs to be some consultation in the community to know just what these bridges will look like in the end so we don’t end up with (a) concrete jungle,” he said. “That’s not what our neighbourhood is about. Obviously, they’re trying to build stuff that’ll last years to come but making sure that our character in the ravine is maintained.”
Mark Rumsey, the owner of Hardcore Bikes, agreed with Tyrkalo that the bridges should fit the feel of the area. While he doesn’t ride very often in the area, he said the ravine offers cyclists a lot of trail options from smooth pavement to loose gravel.
“A lot of people ride in the winter as well so it’s a four-season place to ride your bike,” he said. “The attraction of the river valley is being in nature.”