Millet residents await official reopening date for Highway 616 overpass

The Millet overpass over Highway 2, south of Leduc, could reopen this fall after it was damaged in a fiery semi-trailer crash on Jan. 17.

Early estimates say the bridge could reopen in the fall, Alberta Transportation spokesperson says

The overpass on Highway 2 near Millet was damaged when a semi collided with one of the support pillars on Jan. 17. (Leduc RCMP)

The Millet overpass over Highway 2, south of Leduc, could reopen this fall after it was damaged in a fiery semi-trailer crash on Jan. 17.

The Highway 616 overpass has been closed since the crash, when a truck collided with one of the bridge's support pillars and burst into flames.

Millet is about 50 kilometres south of Edmonton. The town's mayor, Tony Wadsworth, said the closure has residents concerned about accessibility to the town, particularly for emergency vehicles.

"If anybody needs some emergency assistance west of Highway 2 on 616, it's going to take much longer to reach them," he said, noting that people driving south on Highway 2 have to take a detour to get to Millet, as they can no longer use the overpass.

Traffic travelling north from Millet hasn't been affected by the closure.

Official reopening date yet to be determined

Residents were concerned the bridge could take years to fix, but Alberta Transportation spokesperson Wayne Wood said it could reopen this fall.

"There seems to be a rumour going around in the community that the structure may be closed for up to four years, which is just speculation at this point in time," he said.

The official reopening date and cost estimate will be determined once Alberta Transportation receives the results of an independent engineering assessment, Wood said.

Inspection of the overpass was delayed because of severe weather, but was completed on Wednesday, Wood said. It determined that the damage to the bridge's median and girders were damaged, but building a new overpass likely won't be necessary.

"Everybody is reasonably confident that the repairs will be able to be made to the existing structure," he said. "And there's no talk — at the moment at least — of taking the structure down and building a new one."

Without this overpass, this community would be in distress.- Tony Wadsworth, Mayor of Millet

Wadsworth said he was told the re-opening of the bridge has the full attention of the provincial government.

"We do trust in that as a town. We are glad we got everyone's attention, because without this overpass, this community would be in distress because there's so many plans we have for growing," he said.

"We anticipate the next few years to be a period of growth. And without this overpass, that would impede our growth."

Wadsworth said access to a construction site for a thousand new homes would be hindered as a result of the closure.

He said he's expecting to hear the results of the engineering review this week.