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UPDATED: City to spend almost $900K to repair Seventh Avenue SW bridge

The Avery and Thorn families will soon be able to access their properties without having to drive through Valley View Centre after city council approved funding to repair the Seventh Avenue Southwest bridge.

The Avery and Thorn families will soon be able to access their properties without having to drive through Valley View Centre after city council approved funding to repair the Seventh Avenue Southwest bridge.

During a special meeting held on Feb. 22, council voted unanimously to award the bridge rehabilitation construction contract to Harbuilt Construction Ltd. for $739,937 (taxes excluded) and pay Associated Engineering $92,265 (plus taxes) for consulting services for a total — before taxes — of $832,202. The money will come from the land development fund in the general capital fund.

The bridge has been closed since 2015 after ice damaged the structure. 

“It’s perfect,” property owner Jim Thorn said about the outcome as he left council chambers.

Engineering perspective

Steven Chaisson, an engineer with Associated Engineering (AE), explained that adding steel piles and caps to shore up the bridge ensures that both lanes can be used, that ambulances and small school buses can cross, and that pedestrians can use the sidewalk. It also increases the bridge’s rating to 10 tonnes from the current five tonnes.

“The steel piling option also provides benefits of reducing the risk to the bridge of future ice events,” Chaisson said, adding construction should be completed by June 30. 

AE also conducted a life-cycle cost analysis of the bridge and determined that the city will save between $275,000 and $300,000 on costs during the expected 10-year lifespan of the structure. 

Council discussion

Once the work is completed, there needs to be some way to determine if it’s still in good condition by 2030, noted Coun. Crystal Froese. She wondered what plans city administration had to figure that out.

Moose Jaw has historically reviewed its bridges every five years, replied Bevan Harlton, director of engineering services. City hall last completed an evaluation on all the bridges in 2017, so the next one should occur in 2022 and then again in 2027.

Coun. Dawn Luhning wondered how the fire department would handle not being able to use the bridge in an emergency, especially since that was one concern of the residents.

The department did not use that bridge even when it was open, but accessed Wakamow Valley from Highway 2 near the Ministry of Highways’ compound, explained Fire Chief Rod Montgomery. That process will not change since they have no other choice. 

Concerns with report’s wording

David Chow, lawyer for the Thorns and Averys, noted that the families supported this recommendation. However, he was concerned about some of the wording in the council report, which noted that the solution was “temporary” and “short-term.” 

Chow wanted confirmation that there would be no attempt by council or city administration to diminish Seventh Avenue Southwest as the primary access for the families or the proposed subdivision on the former Valley View Centre grounds.

The bridge will be the primary access for the families, while access for the subdivision will be referred to the planning and development committee, replied city manager Jim Puffalt.

“… I’m confident in city administration’s work on this and I’m very confident in the repairs of this bridge,” said Coun. Heather Eby, adding she was also pleased that residents would be able to cross safely. 

Other access points

While this repair will provide direct access to Seventh Avenue Southwest, Luhning reminded council that there is still a legal roadway on the Valley View property that the families could access. However, property owner Carpere Canada is refusing to let them — or the city — use it.

This will cost plenty of money, but it’s overdue since the residents and future land development in that area require it, said Coun. Jamey Logan. This repair shows the residents and Carpere that council is willing to co-operate on projects.

It’s not a perfect solution since the fire department can’t travel across the bridge, but it alleviates the pressure on the families and users of the valley, said Coun. Doug Blanc. 

This option also allows school buses, ambulances and trucks that weigh up to 14,000 pounds to use the bridge safely, he added. This is particularly important during an emergency when time is short. 

The next regular council meeting is Monday, March 8.