County officials oppose closure of bridges

A Lacombe County bridge policy that says closing some crossings may be considered as a last resort, didn’t sit well with some councillors.

A Lacombe County bridge policy that says closing some crossings may be considered as a last resort, didn’t sit well with some councillors.

Dana Kreil said closing bridges should never be an option and wanted it pulled out of the proposed Bridge Management Plan.

She questioned how closing bridges could ever be justified in a municipality with healthy multimillion-dollar reserve funds.

“I’m totally against having the word ‘closure’ there,” said Kreil during debate at a county council meeting on Thursday.

There are other options that could be pursued rather than closing down bridges, she added.

Coun. Keith Stephenson was also opposed any suggestion that closure was an option.

“If we start closing bridges, I think we are getting away from our strategic plan and vision,” he said.

County commissioner Terry Hager said closure would only be a last resort and would not happen without public consultation. By including it in the plan, a process for closing bridges is clearly laid out.

As it stands now, council has the authority to close a bridge without going to the public for comment.

“I think people have more protection by having that there than by removing it,” Hager said.

The policy is being developed to provide direction on how to oversee the county’s aging inventory of 148 major bridges, standard bridges and nearly culverts.

About half the inventory is at least 50 years old.

The province recently announced it was eliminating a program to provide funding help for bridge replacement, leaving municipalities to carry the load.

Council voted to adopt the bridge plan. Stephenson and Kreil voted against.