Bridge work to close portion of Mill Creek Ravine in the fall
'I think they're nice but if there's going to be some new ones, I'm looking forward to it'
The trails in Mill Creek Ravine near Ritchie and King Edward Park will close in the fall to facilitate the replacement of five rotting pedestrian bridges.
The $7.5-million project, in the works now for two years, is necessary to ensure the structural integrity of the bridges, which were assessed last year, said Jason Reske, an engineer with the City of Edmonton.
He was meeting with members of the public on Tuesday night during an open house at the King Edward Park Community League, providing updates on the construction schedule.
The closure is expected to last from September through until May, Reske said.
Two of the three trestle bridges on the paved upper trail, which are part of an old railway line, will be refurbished. The other one will be replaced. The two glued laminate bridges on the lower gravel trail will be replaced as well.
"Unfortunately, just due to the topography in the area and the proximity of all the bridges, we've allowed the contractor the ability to close the entire area," Reske said, noting the city is still negotiating with the contractor, who may have some ideas to avoid completely cordoning off the area.
Inconvenience will pay off
For the people who use the Mill Creek Ravine every day, other options would be welcome.
Becca Duar rides her bike through the affected portion of Mill Creek Ravine every morning and afternoon commuting to the University of Alberta.
"That means I would have to take the roads instead of taking the trails. I would have to deal with traffic," she said. "I don't have to deal with traffic here. I don't have to deal with the cars."
But she's noticed the aging boards on the bridge decks — some of which are popping out — and would welcome a smoother ride.
Christine Bandelow is also in the area daily with her family, walking the dog. She noted the bridges can be hazardous, especially when slippery.
While some of the boards are replaced as needed, she said overall they're quite worn down.
Bandelow is hopeful the upper and lower trails won't be closed simultaneously, but said she understands if it works out that way.
The temporary inconvenience will be worth it in the end for her. Once the bridges are replaced, "it will be fabulous," she said.
Preserving the 'charm'
Shastina Tessier crosses the three trestle bridges on the upper trail on her morning runs. Like Bandelow, she hopes the work is staggered so that when the upper trail is out of commission, she can use the lower trail and vice versa.
But her main concern is preserving the "charm of the bridges."
"They're so beautiful," she said.
Tessier's daughter, Mia, who is in the ravine regularly with her, walking and cycling, agrees.
"I think they're nice but if there's going to be some new ones, I'm looking forward to it," Mia said.
Reske said the city plans to reuse as much of the trestle bridges as possible. The main change will be the width of the decks, which will be 1.2 metres wider post-construction.
The bridges will be wider too: 4.2 metres instead of their current three metres. The handrails will have a more classical look.
The city will post the specifics of the construction schedule on its website once it is confirmed.
Detour routes will also be posted and properly signed, Reske said.