Published on October 07, 2013
The provincial government has provided the city with the funding required to inspect the Diefenbaker bridge’s piers -- something Coun. Don Cody joins some other council members in arguing should have been done before a report came out claiming the bridge is good for another 25 years.
Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Published on October 07, 2013
The Diefenbaker bridge’s piers are seen being constructed prior to its 1960 grand opening.
Herald file photo
The usual response to receiving provincial funding is one of gratitude.
Despite an announcement of up to $80,000 in provincial funding for a Diefenbaker bridge pier inspection, the city’s elected officials appeared less than enthused during Monday’s executive committee meeting.
“I think it should have been done at the time when the bridge was inspected first of all, to see what were the repairs necessary,” Coun. Don Cody said before Monday’s meeting.
“The part that bothers me the most is that we had inspectors in there inspecting a bridge and then saying, ‘This bridge is good for another 25 years,’ and later we find they hadn’t inspected the piers!”
This report, by Stantec Consulting, was released earlier this year, at which time Cody got the ball rolling on getting provincial funding for pier inspections.
Offended that the provincial government was resting on the laurels of a report that deemed the bridge safe without having ever inspected its piers, he argued at the time, “You told us it was a good bridge -- prove it!”
On March 26, a formal application was made through the province’s Urban Highway Connector Program for the funding required for pier inspections.
Monday’s announcement that the funding has been approved reignited some city council members’ frustration over the initial report.
“How do you announce the bridge is safe without inspecting the piers?” Coun. Ted Zurakowski asked in agreement with Cody’s key point.
“That’s the only bridge we have,” Mayor Greg Dionne said.
“That’s the most important asset we have today, is that bridge, because if we lose that bridge we’ve lost connection to the north side of the river.”
Extrapolating his frustration with the provincial government, Dionne threw the Highway 55 bridge into the mix -- a structure that sustained damage during this summer’s high water flow along Little Red River.
Dionne said that finding provincial funding for the Highway 55 bridge repairs hasn’t been simple, despite the high water flow’s cause being the provincial government opening the dam at Anglin Lake -- a situation he asserts the province “allowed … to get out of hand and was threatening collapsing.”
I think it should have been done at the time when the bridge was inspected first of all, to see what were the repairs necessary. Coun. Don Cody
Woes regarding the Diefenbaker bridge began in August, 2011, when a canoeist spotted a crack on one of its girders, sparking months of weight restrictions, lane closures and repairs.
In September, 2011, the provincial government added the bridge to its Urban Highway Connector Program, funding 100 per cent of repairs -- an increase from its previous 50/50 funding agreement with the city.
During next week’s city council meeting, the city’s elected officials will consider whether to approve a $66,000 tender to ISL Engineering and Land Service for a pier inspection, using money from the provincial government.
“It’s a high resolution sonar scan that’s done, so you’re able to generate an image of it,” public works director Colin Innes explained. “If there is something where you need further follow-up … you would go and look.”
Among the technical experts at ISL Engineering and Land Services are two former Stantec Consulting employees who drafted the report that Cody took offence to -- a point city administration calls a benefit and Cody calls a detriment.
“You tell me, which engineer would put their name to a document like that?” he asked of the bridge report of earlier this year, cautioning council to be wary of whatever report they produce.
Click HERE for a story on Coun. Don Cody's anti-Stantec report comments in March that sparked the pier inspections, HERE for a story on Prince Albert's history of campaigning for a second bridge, and HERE for the Stantec report on the Diefenbaker bridge.