Funding to replace Kehl bridge was recently announced and Alberton Township is hoping to finish the project before the end of the construction season this year.
Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak visited the district last Wednesday to announce the federal funds for the bridge which totals over $330,000, while provincial funds are $185 thousand and the municipality kicked in $37,000.
The Kehl Bridge is 75 years old and in serious need of replacement, he told the Times.
“We heard from the reeve and councillors here how important this bridge is, especially when there’s an incident on the highway,” Rusnak remarked.
“We know that emergency response times are effected with not having a proper detour. If this bridge went out, along with the highway, the detour could be life or death for people here.”
Alberton Township also had to implement a restriction sign for vehicles over 13 tonnes at the bridge since the foundations have begun to give in.
“If the bridge went out because someone didn’t follow the restriction, how dangerous would that be? So these investments for larger centres may not seem big but they are big here because they have a huge impact on everybody’s daily commute and everybody’s safety in terms of fire response, paramedic response and highway detours for safety and response times,” Rusnak explained.
He says working with the province on this project has been difficult and construction could have started much earlier if their applications were submitted sooner.
“The provincial government has had over a year to get applications in and . . . we just now have received them,” Rusnak quipped.
“We’re getting close to the end of construction season in this area and I’m glad to hear they will have the tender out shortly and construction done hopefully this year.
“But waiting this long isn’t good for anyone because you’re going to raise prices getting so close to the end of the construction season, having more time to plan,” Rusnak added.
If the applications were received six months earlier there would have been more time to plan for the project and a reduced risk of the bridge collapsing, he noted.
Construction at the bridge should commence shortly and wrap up before the winter season.