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Bayview Bridge Remediation Underway

Lane closures now in place

Lights control lane closures on Bayview Avenue.

Work has resumed on the Alberta Creek bridge to reconnect the residence at 325 Bayview Avenue with the street. The bridge has been impassable for more than a year, meaning the residents, a former fire chief and his family, have not been able to gain access to their home during that time.


At the September 5 Council meeting, Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr offered a report on the status of the bridge remediation (summarized HERE).


The Village will cover the costs of the repair before handing ownership of the structure over to the homeowners.


Back in November 15, 2022, then-Public Works Manager (PWM) Nai Jaffer updated Council on the status of the project, which outlined some of the history involved. Jaffer's full report can be read beginning on page 99 of the agenda (HERE).


In brief, Jaffer noted that back in 1986, as part of the Alberta Creek post-debris torrent project carried out by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), a repurposed bridge was supplied to the Village to provide access to the home at 325 Bayview Road. Jaffer also noted that staff were unclear as to why the bridge was provided to the Municipality as opposed to the residents of the home, but said an extensive search of MOTI archives could not provide an answer.


A member of Council at that time recalls that in the early 80's, following the debris torrent that devastated the village, the province stepped in to replace all the bridges and ensure that roadways were brought up to code. While the province underwrote the costs of these replacements, the responsibility for ongoing maintenance, repair and replacement fell to the the Village. If the bridge in question had been an extension of an actual roadway, it likely would have also been financed by the province, but this was not the case.


Prior to the debris torrent, Alberta Creek had passed beneath Bayview Road via two small culverts. The torrent washed the entire road away, including the access to the property at 325 Bayview. According to the Council member at the time, the repurposed bridge provided a solution to the problem of regaining access to that property. After reviewing all the options, Council decided the installation of the donated bridge was the best option of those available.


In his 2022 report, Jaffer confirmed the municipality accepted ownership of the bridge at the time of installation, including liability, operations and maintenance responsibility, as well as future replacement.


After an inspection in 2004, it was discovered that the deck and handrails of the bridge had deteriorated to a point where there was significant concern regarding the safe passage of vehicles and pedestrians. A plan was put in place to replace some of the rotting timbers, and to coat corroding metal with special paint if needed, but no further action was taken.


By 2016, an inspection performed as part of the Infrastructure Master Plan (IMP), and the subsequent reports called for at least a partial rehabilitation of the bridge, as there was further decay of load-bearing beams, plus extensive corrosion of anchor bolts, diaphragms and lateral bracing supporting the deck.


Again, no action was taken until 2018 when, as outlined in the IMP, detailed inspections and load ratings were completed on all the municipality’s bridges. At that time, the review of the bridge identified "extensive and severe rotting in the timber floor beams (and) severe splitting of vertical posts" and they recommended a complete replacement of the timber structure and wooden handrail system. In addition, the steel structure was severely corroded. ISL Engineering, the company doing the inspections, determined that the replacement cost of the bridge would be $488,000. However, as the bridge was still considered to have nearly 50 years of usable life, they came up with a budget of just under $100,000 to repair the bridge.


When the job was finally put out to tender in 2020, it was discovered that the existing paint on the bridge contained lead and that special procedures and monitoring would be required during the process, which again drove up the costs. None of the five bidders was able to promise to bring the project in under budget, and so Council began to explore other options, including the construction of a driveway to the property that did not require access across Alberta Creek. Due to the steepness of the slope and the proximity to the creek, however, this process proved more complicated and expensive than anticipated. When a comparison was completed in early 2022, the following estimates emerged:

  • replacement of the bridge: $700,000 +

  • shared access between 315 and 325 Bayview (hampered by the steep terrain and other problems): $390,000

  • a new land-based driveway for 325 Bayview, which would require relocation of Hydro lines and expensive heavy equipment: $500,000

  • bridge rehabilitation: $250,000

According to Jaffer's report, should this final, cheapest option be selected by Council, it stipulates: "the owners of 325 Bayview have agreed to the transfer of this asset to them upon its remediation."


Essentially, this means that the Village will bear the cost of the remediation of the bridge, and then hand full responsibility to the bridge over to the property owners of 325 Bayview Avenue. The report indicates that the inclusion of this bridge in the municipality's inventory in the first place is unusual, as typically access to private property is not a municipal responsibility. But again, this bridge was initially presented to the Village in the aftermath of the debris torrent, and during the subsequent rebuilding of the river basins within village property, so there the situation rested.


In April 2022, Council directed staff to move forward with the bridge rehabilitation, with the proviso that any expenses over $230,000 would be flagged. Work began in May of last year, but quickly ground to a halt as supply-chain issues meant the timber could not be sourced. A further inspection showed considerably more corrosion, which required a reassessment and ultimately a further $130,000 in costs, bringing the bridge remediation costs up to $413,000, with a contingency to allow for cost overruns bringing the final cost to $425,000. At the time, the property owner says he agreed to move out for eight to ten weeks to facilitate repairs. Jaffer noted that the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at the time was working with a legal team to ensure the sale and transfer of the bridge to the homeowner once the work was completed.


The property owner is a former Village fire chief with 26 years of service to the community. He says that he has faced a number of frustrating challenges in addition to the much lengthier lack of access to his home. These include having to pay an $800 Hydro bill charged by a contractor who used his power to clean and sandblast the bridge, the loss of trees that were removed from his property in his absence, and paying all the bills and utilities associated with his property last year without having access. "I just want to move back into my home," he says.


Since this report was issued in November, 2022, council has lost the services of both CAO deJong and PWM Jaffer. Current PWM Karl Buhr has taken over the project, and as promised, has installed the lights on Bayview Avenue to allow a dedicated lane for the large equipment required for the bridge remediation.


This complex situation is among the many that will be inherited by the new CAO Ross Blackwell when he takes on the job later this month.


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As usual in the Watershed, a detailed, insightful report on a complex LB problem!

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If I have digested all the numbers correctly, every property owner in the Village has so far contributed about $1000 each toward this project. And the dust hasn't fully settled.

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