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Fort Saskatchewan residents question safety of Highway 15 bridge

EDMONTON- A couple of Fort Saskatchewan residents are concerned about the structural integrity of one of the area’s busiest bridges.

“We came down and looked, and from a lay person’s perspective, we were shocked,” said Judy Sellin.

The bridge she’s referring to is the Highway 15 bridge that links Edmonton to Fort Saskatchewan. The bridge- which was constructed in 1957- sees 19,000 vehicles cross it on a daily basis.

Fort Saskatchewan’s mayor, Gale Katchur, has been pushing for a second bridge to be built to relieve some of the traffic congestion. However, Judy’s concerns have nothing to do with congestion.

“My biggest concern here is the substructure of the bridge,” she explained. “When I see piers with exposed rebar and every pillar that holds the footings of this superstructure are cracked immensely… then I’m concerned.”

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“You expect something that’s carrying so much traffic every day to be in a lot higher condition, to at least have the appearance of looking to be something that’s well maintained,” added Reece Sellin.

Judy and Reece write for Over Easy, Please, Fort Saskatchewan’s weekend newspaper. They’ve been documenting the condition of the bridge since May and say it shows obvious signs of deterioration.

“We came down, took a look underneath… and noticed that it seemed to be falling apart. You could see rebar sticking through,” Reece said.

Alberta Transportation rates bridges on a scale of one to 10. A rating of three means repairs are needed. A rating of two means those repairs must be done immediately. If the rating drops to one, the bridge must be shut down.

According to documents from 2011, the substructure of the Highway 15 bridge was rated three.

“We consider it to be in reasonable condition for its age,” said Melina Steenbergen, a spokesperson for Alberta Transportation.

Steenbergen says there are areas of the bridge the province has been monitoring, “but it’s not to the point where it would endanger anyone crossing this bridge. It’s firmly embedded into the bedrock.”

“The structural integrity of the bridge is safe,” she added.

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The latest routine inspection of the bridge was done in August. However, the results have not yet been released. Steenbergen says once those results come out Alberta Transportation will determine whether or not work is needed.

“The inspection before this August, it recommended replacement sometime around 2029.”

Judy and Reece say the bridge is not safe and something needs to be now. They’re calling on Transportation Minister Ric McIver to come and see the bridge for himself.

“I get afraid, say a little prayer,” Reece said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

“When I cross the bridge, I do a little crossing of my heart,” Judy said. “I don’t have any confidence in this bridge anymore and I’d like to be proven wrong.”

The Highway 15 bridge is set to undergo deck work this fall, after receiving a rating of two for the superstructure (bridge deck) in December 2011.

The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
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The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan . Supplied, Reece Sellin
The Highway 15 bridge is the only route that heads north out of Fort Saskatchewan and crosses the North Saskatchewan River. Supplied, Reece Sellin

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With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News.

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