ATHABASCA — A St. Albert-based contractor has been selected for the new bridge over the Athabasca River on Highway 813, with work expected to begin late in the summer.
A May 4 media release from Alberta Transportation announced that St. Albert-based Alberco Construction Ltd. was selected to complete the $70-million project to replace the 72-year-old wood-decked bridge currently in use, and it should open to traffic in 2025. The project is also expected to support more than 400 jobs during the construction phase.
Design, utility relocations, and right-of-way acquisitions were completed between 2017 and 2022, according to the release. The new bridge will include two 3.7-metre lanes with an additional 1.8 metres of shoulder space on either side. A 2.5-metre sidewalk will also be included on the south side of the structure, which will be raised on the north side of the current bridge. The bridge was built in 1950 and has long been a challenge for modern vehicles, especially when they are forced to pass each other. There will also be a full kilometre of road alignment related to the project.
“The awarding of the contract and construction of the new bridge is fantastic news for the Town of Athabasca, Athabasca County, and the entire region. It’s been a long time coming and the news that the project will commence starting this fall is very welcoming. Thank you to Premier [Jason] Kenney and Transportation Minister [Rajan] Sawhney for helping make this long-awaited project a reality," said Athabasca mayor Rob Balay in the release.
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken extended his thanks as well.
“The Athabasca community has looked forward to this bridge replacement for many years. Thank you to Minister Sawhney for ensuring this project will be built. My constituents, as well as industry stakeholders, look forward to the improved safety and opportunity the new bridge will deliver," he said.
The minister said the construction of the new bridge will suit multiple purposes.
“The existing bridge is old, too narrow, and has served its useful life. The new bridge will support economic development, improvements to safety, and commuter traffic in and around Athabasca, and provide a connection for area Indigenous communities,” she said.
The existing bridge will stay in place until the completion of the new span, but what happens to the old structure then is unknown at this point.
Alberco is expected to finalize supplier contracts and material delivery before the start of construction in the late summer, the release stated.