Army helping with bridge construction

The Canadian Armed Forces is mobilizing to help build a pedestrian bridge in Lacombe County.

The Canadian Armed Forces is mobilizing to help build a pedestrian bridge in Lacombe County.

Army engineers have agreed to donate their time and expertise for the $300,000 bridge over Blindman River as part of a walking trail project.

The engineers will install the decking and handrails, a contribution worth about $50,000.

The county will donate about $50,000 worth of building materials to the project, and three separate grants from federal and provincial trail associations will cover the rest of the cost led by a $100,000 donation from Alberta TrailNet.

Trans-Canada Trail donated $51,040 and the National Trails Coalition gave $50,000.

Now that funding is in place the county can go ahead and tender the project, said Phil Lodermeier, the county’s manager of operations. The project will likely go out to tender and construction could start later this year. The bridge is expected to be completed by the spring.

“It is good to see it is going to be a go,” Lodermeier told council Thursday.

The bridge crossing the Blindman River will be between Red Deer and Blackfalds at the end of the C&E trail, just down from the rail bridge.

County commissioner Terry Hager said there is no point in building a bridge without a trail leading to it so that part of the project will be brought forward in the 2010 budget.

The county is looking at a link from the Town of Blackfalds to the pedestrian bridge.

The trail will later be extended to create a link with the Town of Lacombe.

The Blindman bridge is one of two pedestrian bridges proposed for Central Alberta.

The other bridge, crossing Battle River, is planned for the north end of Ponoka, north of the Thinking Tree.

The Town of Ponoka has already put aside $102,000 for the project and about $400,000 has been raised for that bridge and a connecting walkway from trail associations and public donations.

Army engineers are also helping out on this project.

Several communities in Central Alberta, including Red Deer, Lacombe, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin and Innisfail, have developed trail systems, portions of which have been registered as Trans Canada Trail links.

The goal is to link cities and towns in Central Alberta with a system of rural trails through Red Deer, Lacombe and Ponoka counties.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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