Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen has advised MD Council that initial phases of the Smith Bridge rebuild project will be supported via Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) funding. STIP is a provincially funded grant program that provides financial assistance to rural municipalities to develop and maintain key local transportation infrastructure.
The STIP investment of $1,652,850.00 represents 75 per cent of the estimated eligible costs for the project’s engineering, design and permitting components. An additional STIP application for $871,830.00 to offset the cost of interim repair work was also approved by the Province, reflecting a total commitment of $2,524,680.00 toward the Smith Bridge thus far in 2023.
“On behalf of Council and administration, I’d like to convey our gratitude to Minister Dreeshen for helping us obtain this much-needed funding,” stated MD Reeve Murray Kerik. “We are thrilled at the milestone we’ve achieved together, and we’re eager to get this project underway.”
“Keeping our transportation corridors safe for the travelling public remains a top priority at the Council table, in addition to maintaining reliable infrastructure to support our industry partners.”
Reeve Kerik commended provincial decision makers for their foresight in helping the MD keep its transportation corridors open for business.
“Our region is home to North America’s most lucrative heavy oil play, not to mention vast stretches of high-value timber resources and agricultural land, and emerging technologies like biomass fuel generation,” he noted. “Harvesting these resources and getting them to market are essential to the sustained growth and prosperity of the province. By funding key infrastructure projects like the Smith Bridge, Minister Dreeshen is supporting these sectors and safeguarding hundreds of millions in royalties, stumpage and tax revenues. He is also helping us grow prosperous and resilient communities for generations to come.”
Public opinion played a vital role in landing the recent provincial infrastructure funds. In the weeks leading up to provincial budget deliberations, the MD launched a campaign to maximize local awareness and elicit public response. In a span of roughly ten days, the MD received more than 350 public declarations of resounding support of the Smith Bridge rebuild project.
“I’d like to extend my sincere thanks for the role our community members played in moving this project forward,” shared Barry Kolenosky, Chief Administrative Officer for the MD. “As one of a hundred rural municipalities vying for provincial funding, we grasp the importance of being visible on the provincial radar. Our recent care package to the Minister contained hundreds of compelling public submissions, and made it abundantly clear that rebuilding the Smith Bridge matters to these folks. The letters pack an emotional punch, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they factored into the Province’s decision.”
Emergency Scour Repairs Complete
In late February, contractors completed scour repairs as a stopgap measure to extend the life of the aging bridge. The scope of work entailed installation of riprap scour protection (placement of large boulders to stabilize and protect an area against erosion) at the bridge’s north pier. Prior to this repair work, the north pier’s ground cover had eroded to just a half metre into the river bed instead of the minimum 2.5 metres as required by code.
Stay Informed on the Smith Bridge
The Smith Bridge is a vital infrastructure asset that supports both a local social framework and a diversity of industrial activity. By replacing this bridge, the MD seeks to unlock even more potential for industry, agriculture, tourism and community.
As this important project gains momentum in the months ahead, any related updates and documentation will be shared at SmithBridge.ca.