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Tuesday, Jul 25, 2023

Rehabilitation of Battleford Truss Bridges restores heritage structures and improves access

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For almost a century, two steel truss bridges have served as a main transportation route to the Town of Battleford, located 138 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, SK. The historic structures cross the North Saskatchewan River, providing access for vehicles and pedestrians from the Town to Finlayson Island.

In 2003, the Town took ownership of the bridges from the Province of Saskatchewan, and since then Associated Engineering has worked with the Town to monitor the aging structures. In 2018, the Town engaged Associated Engineering to undertake a more thorough condition review of the structures. This led to the development of a Ten-Year Management Plan that provided the framework for financial planning of operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation activities as well as condition priorities. The plan incorporates all repairs (minor and major), maintenance, and studies/investigations recommended.

With the plan, the Town obtained Federal funding for rehabilitation of the north truss bridge. Project Manager, Justine Meyers, tells us, "A new, longer jump span was designed and the eroded bridge abutment slope was reshaped and armoured. We provided a rehabilitation design addressing the tight timeline restrictions of the funding. Grant funding requirements stated that the project needed to be substantially completed by December 31, 2022. Considering post-pandemic supply chain issues, an extension was granted to allow for substantial completion in Spring 2023."

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"We developed an innovative construction approach to address the restricted access to the jump span, allowing the continued use of this community link."

The design required capacity upgrades to the south bridge to allow for construction access; with the load restriction on the south bridge, material weight and equipment sizes were carefully selected. Increased lead times for items such as steel girders and precast concrete had to be accommodated within the schedule. 

Meeting the budget and design schedule was an important achievement, considering post-pandemic supply chain and cost-escalation issues. The successful tender for the construction works was within $6,000 of the grant funding received for the project. Thus, the Town was not required to contribute any additional funds to the project at award. 

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Now, larger vehicles can access Finlayson Island for provision of emergency services, maintenance of the grounds, or work on the structure itself. The project also incorporates many of the improvements recommended in the Ten-Year Management Plan to increase the useful life of the structures.

The project success can be attributed to the project management team’s proactive scheduling and communication with suppliers and contractors

The design took environmental considerations into account, as the solution only required reshaping and armouring of the banks. Construction was completed with minimal impact to habitat, aquatic life and wildlife, and therefore required much simpler environmental measures. Environmental permitting was achieved in time for construction, even with the condensed design timeline.

The rehabilitation of the Battleford Truss Bridges allows for the long-term, safe continued use of the north bridge as a pedestrian/cyclist corridor between Battleford, Finlayson Island, and North Battleford. The design is also resilient to climate change, allowing larger river flows to pass below the structure without compromising its use. The cost-effective, environmentally sustainable rehabilitation restores the bridges for Battleford for decades to come.