Prov­ince con­fi­dent Diefen­baker bridge is enough

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - YOUR PAGE - JA­SON KERR

Saskatchewan’s Min­is­ter of High­ways and In­fra­struc­ture says Diefen­baker Bridge is more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling the cur­rent traf­fic load, mean­ing there’s no ur­gency to build a se­cond bridge in Prince Al­bert.

On Tues­day, Min­is­ter David Marit took time to re­spond to a bridge in­spec­tion re­port put out on Mon­day by in­de­pen­dent firm ISL En­gi­neer­ing and Land Ser­vices.

The au­thors of the re­port said re­pairs made in 2011 are hold­ing up, but added that ad­di­tional cracks are ap­pear­ing be­yond nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring wear and tear. The au­thors at­trib­uted the cracks to poor orig­i­nal con­struc­tion.

Marit said they have short, medium and long-term plans in place to keep the bridge func­tion­ing, which should make it ca­pa­ble of han­dling fu­ture loads.

“I don’t think our ur­gency has changed a bit,” he said. “In fact, I think, what this does for us is give us a pretty good com­fort level that the bridge is quite ca­pa­ble of han­dling the traf­fic.”

The min­istry plans to put sen­sors on the bridge to help mea­sure truck traf­fic, which will help iden­tify weak points in need of re­pair.

Marit said they were con­cerned about truck traf­fic and the state of the bridge, but he’s con­fi­dent the re­port shows it’s in solid con­di­tion. He ex­pects the bridge to re­main us­able for at least an­other 15 to 20 years, if not longer.

“I think the bridge can take more truck traf­fic,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously we’re go­ing to re­ally have to watch closely with the weights. That will be the is­sue, and I think in work­ing with the city we’ll work through that.”

Marit added that there are older bridges in Canada bear­ing more traf­fic, so it wasn’t un­re­al­is­tic to main­tain the bridge for “a very, very long time.”

The min­is­ter’s com­ments didn’t sit well with the pro­vin­cial NDP, who called for the govern­ment to re­con­sider their plans.

“It frus­trates me that this govern­ment still doesn’t un­der­stand that Prince Al­bert needs a se­cond river cross­ing,” Prince Al­bert North­cote NDP MLA Nicole Ran­court said. “The re­port is good and fine, but the re­al­ity is that we need two river cross­ings.”

Ran­court said hav­ing a sin­gle bridge with­out an al­ter­nate route for truck traf­fic means traf­fic flow could grind to a halt if an ac­ci­dent or emer­gency oc­curs.

She’s con­fi­dent the Diefen­baker Bridge is safe enough to bear the load. It’s other safety as­pects that have her wor­ried.

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