It might be looking a little rough around the edges, but Edmonton’s oldest bridge and the one right next to it are fine, according to the city.
The Low Level Bridge is in the queue for major rehab work, confirmed Cheryl Fereday, who’s in charge of the maintenance of the structures in the city.
“It does look worse than it really is. It’s aesthetic right now and it’s nothing to be concerned about.”
“We see the rust too,” she said. “We inspect it annually, we wash it and maintain it annually and we have no concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge or even its longevity.”
“It’s just exposure to the environment. It’s a river-crossing bridge. It sees the elements and it’s metal so it’s going to corrode. Rust is something that is expected to happen on metal bridges.”
The span connecting Scona Road and Connors Road to downtown is actually two bridges in one. And at 120 years old, the northbound lanes are the oldest bridge in Edmonton.
“Right now we are looking at starting the planning towards rehabilitation for both bridges,” Fereday said.
“They’re about 50 years apart. The plan is to do a rehabilitation of both the bridges around the same time in three-to-five years.”
The Low Level Bridge was the scene of a fatal crash August 29, 2018, where the force of the car’s impact caused metal to bend on the narrow structure. City technicians and engineers were called in to inspect the bridge after the crash.
“We went through our proper protocol of getting the bridge checked, and signed off by a professional engineer before it was re-opened,” Fereday said.
“The only damage that occurred was some guard rail damage and that was repaired by our in-house bridge crew.”
Edmonton’s bridges under-go a “level two” inspection every 25 years and those inspections dictate when full rehab work is done. Fereday said they want to schedule significant work several years out.
“We’re limited by our transportation corridors. There’s only so many river crossings that come towards downtown and so with Groat Road Bridge being so limited right now, and we’re doing a lot of work on Saskatchewan Drive, we’re very aware of disruption and we’re not going to disrupt a lot of transportation corridors if we don’t have to.”
The $48-million Groat Road Bridge project, which began in 2018, involves three bridges: the Mayfair Bridge over Groat Road near Emily Murphy Park south of the river, the Groat Road Bridge over the North Saskatchewan — which is two spans side by side — and the Victoria Park Road Bridge over Groat Road.
The finished product will be a wider bridge deck, including widening the sidewalks to become shared-use paths. Trails around Emily Murphy Park will also be widened, and the entire road surface from 87 Avenue to north of the river is being renewed.
After the Groat bridge project — which will continue into next construction season — it’s possible the Rainbow Valley Bridge will be next on the schedule. Fereday said that depends on what the assessment says about the scope of work that needs to be done.
For trivia buffs, the three most well-known bridges connecting to downtown all on the city’s radar for rehab work in the coming years are: the oldest, being the Low Level, then the third oldest Dawson Bridge, and the seventh oldest High Level Bridge.