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ACR / CPR Mintlaw Bridge

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Repairs planned for crumbling CPR bridge
reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley) February 3, 2011

Work will begin before the spring thaw to repair a near-century-old rail bridge in Red Deer County.

A $121,800 contract to repair a rotting support pier on the former Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. span across the Red Deer River has been awarded to Timcon Construction (1988) Ltd., said Evan Bedford, the county's engineering co-ordinator.

The construction firm wants to begin work to replace the pier while the ground is still frozen and can support heavy equipment, said Bedford.

It will not be the usual construction project. The firm must lift a key supporting girder that has settled over time, crushing the wooden supports below it. The weight of the bridge on the crumbling support pier has caused an ominous 60-cm sag in the historic bridge about eight km southwest of Red Deer.

Bedford said an inspection showed the giant 30-cm-square wooden supports had over the decades been slowly crushed by the steel girder above.

Crews will first lift the sagging support girder and shore it up with temporary shims. The old pier will be removed and a new steel one slipped into place by crane and the girder lowered onto it.

"As much as possible, we've tried to get the new structure to resemble the rest of the old trestles," he said.

The last train to cross the so-called Mintlaw Bridge rumbled 33 metres above the river in 1981. As a safety precaution, the two ends of the bridge were later removed to stop people from walking across.

Last November, county council approved spending up to $350,000 to repair the bridge. Since the contract to undertake the most pressing repairs came in lower than expected, county staff are now reviewing whether additional work can be undertaken.

Restoration efforts will focus on the west end for now. A similar east pier is in better shape, as are three smaller piers.

"Right now, our main goal is just to get that wooden structure replaced that's being crushed because it's more of an emergency matter."

There were fears that if some work wasn't done on the bridge soon, it would have to be scrapped and a piece of the area's rail history would be lost forever.

Some would like to see the bridge become part of a walking and pedestrian trail. The county has estimated it would cost just over $2 million to provide a new deck, railings, pier repairs and new spans on each end to reconnect it with the banks. No decision has been made on that yet.

Bedford admits the project has struck a chord among some of the staff working to save the bridge, which at 633 metres is the second longest CPR bridge of its kind in Alberta, after one in Lethbridge.

"It's a beautiful old structure. It's part of Alberta's heritage and I think no one wants to see it tumble down or anything like that."

News articles related to ACR/CPR Mintlaw bridge:
       Commentary: Preservation Opportunity Not to be Lost
(Innisfail Province & Red Deer Advocate June 2015)
       News article: Red Deer County seeks partners to afford bridge access
(Mountain View Gazette Apr.2012)
       News article: County council looks at bridge as tourist attraction
(Red Deer Advocate April 2012)
       News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
       News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
       News article: Reinforcing our history
(Red Deer Advocate Mar.2011)
       News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw Bridge repairs
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
       News article: Bridging gap between history and disrepair
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)
       News article: County buys bridge for a buck
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2009)
       News article: County buys historic railway bridge
(Red Deer Express Dec.2009)
       News article: Historic significance of concrete obelisk preserved in mural (Red Deer Advocate Oct.2008)

Alberta Central Railway (CPR) - Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House
ACR/CPR Mintlaw Steel Trestle
Railway Bridges of Central Alberta
Alberta's Largest Railway Bridges
Largest Railway Bridges of Western Canada

Rails to Trails
Forth/Tuttle-Mintlaw-Sylvan Lake Linear Park Proposal

Michael Dawe articles related to Alberta Central Railway / CPR ACR branch heritage
A look back at the Alberta Central Railway (Red Deer Express Sept.2014)
       Laurier's 1910 visit huge event for city (Red Deer Express August 2010)
       Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       Sir Wilfrid Laurier visited Red Deer (Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
       The origins of Alberta Central Rail pillar (Red Deer Express April 2008)
       Alberta Central Railway helped open region (Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)
       John T. Moore (Red Deer Express Feb.2003)


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