As part of the long-term plan to build an extensive network of trails along the North Saskatchewan River, feedback is being sought on a planned footbridge connecting northeast Edmonton to Strathcona County.
The bridge would be a joint project between the city, county and River Valley Alliance, a not-for-profit organization made up of the six municipalities that border the river in the region: Devon, Parkland County, Edmonton, Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan and Sturgeon County.
The proposed bridge would be built in northeast Edmonton’s rural Horse Hill area, along the alignment of 167 Avenue on the Edmonton side and Township Road 540 in Strathcona County.
City of Edmonton project manager Ali Alou said there are established rural trail systems on both sides of the river that people go out of their way to use and it’s expected the bridge will increase the number of users in the area.
“This is a vital area along the North Saskatchewan River where we can provide better connectivity along the trails,” he told Global News.
“We can enhance the access and connectivity to contribute towards building a continuous trail system that would link between Devon and Fort Saskatchewan.”
Planning for the Edmonton-Strathcona County footbridge began in December 2020 and will go until June. After that, preliminary design work is slated to take place for the rest of this year.
“Hopefully, construction of this project will be starting in the fall of 2022 and it will be completed in the fall of 2024,” Alou said.
The footbridge is expected to cost about $16 million, according to the River Valley Alliance, but so far, only the engineering component is funded.
“Before we reach the second phase, which is more of the detailed design and construction, in the fall of 2022, (we) will be seeking funding for the next stages of the project,” Alou said.
An online public event will be held on April 14 at 7 p.m. to provide information on the scope of the project. Alou said the intent is to introduce the public and adjacent communities to the project, provide background information and answer questions about the project.
An online survey will also be posted on the city’s website after the event on Wednesday night.
The River Valley Alliance’s goal is to create a continuous integrated river valley park system from one end of the Edmonton region to the other, and work has been underway for more than a decade. Several footbridges have already been constructed, including the Terwillegar Park footbridge.
There are also new trails built along the system, such as a six-kilometre stretch between the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in Parkland County and the Prospector’s Point riverside park near Devon. Overall, the $90 million Phase 1 included 13 projects that resulted in 70 kilometres of new trails.
The River Valley Alliance’s $100 million Phase 2 includes another 13 projects and the creation of 33 kilometres of new trails, including:
- new boat launches and docks from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, including in Edmonton
- a footbridge between Devon and Parkland County
- a footbridge between Terwillegar Park with the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant in southwest Edmonton
- a footbridge between Sturgeon County and Fort Saskatchewan
- a 17-kilometre trail connecting Devon through Leduc County to southwest Edmonton
- a Touch the Water waterfront promenade in Edmonton