The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Sparwood seeks proposals on erosion mitigation for crucial bridge

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge is crucial infrastructure for pedestrians and riders around town

Sparwood is seeking professional proposals for the Elk River Pedestrian Bridge bank stabilization project.

The bridge links the main part of Sparwood with Sparwood Heights, but since its construction in 2012 the southern bank of the river has eroded by 17 metres, putting it and critical district infrastructure at risk.

The district applied for federal and provincial grants for the project in November 2020 and is yet to hear back, but Mayor David Wilks said it was important for the district to have the project shovel-ready if it got the funding it was after.

“The amount of people that use it on a daily basis – even today when it’s 30 below – is quite impressive,” said Wilks.

“It’s utilized mainly because it’s very close to getting to the high school and FJM elementary school. The kids from the heights can ride their bikes in the spring, and they can beat the bus driving around picking everyone up.”

Wilks said it was an important piece of infrastructure that allowed walkers and riders to stay off Hwy. 43, and linked up trails around the district.

To mitigate the erosion, the district applied for up to $750,000 in funding from provincial and federal sources.

Wilks said that the district didn’t expect to hear back for a while, but still needed to get going on advertising and seeking proposals for environmental and engineering purposes.

Work can only be carried out in and around the Elk River when the water is low due to federal environmental regulations, which means if the grant were successful, works would be carried out over a four to six-week period later in the year. If the funds are not confirmed soon enough, works could be delayed into 2022.

He said that even if the district is unsuccessful in securing funding, the district would eventually need to do something about the erosion to the bank.

“(The bridge will) 100 per cent get fixed and repaired. It has become such a valuable asset to the district for people walking and biking, that if we were to take out that bridge, it pushes that much more pedestrian traffic on to Hwy. 43.”

READ MORE: Sparwood applies for erosion mitigation funding
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