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Kakisa River bridge to be replaced

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 5, 2008

KA'A'GEE TU/KAKISA - Work is set to begin on a new bridge to cross the Kakisa River.

Ground will be broken this week in preparation for construction, said Ann Lanteigne, the head of highway structures for the Department of Transportation.

The bridge is being built to replace the existing structure located at kilometre 169.9 on Highway 1 near the access road for Kakisa. The existing Kakisa River bridge is 50 years old.

"The bridge is no longer functioning as originally intended," said Lanteigne.

When the bridge was designed trucks were smaller and the loads they carried were lighter, she said. To reduce the stress that heavy loads put on the bridge restrictions have been in place for commercial trucks since August 2007. Trucks are required to travel at a speed of five kilometres per hour down the centre line without breaking or stopping.

"This is just a precautionary measure," said Lanteigne.

The new structure has been designed to handle larger loads and sizes at highway speeds, she said.

"The new bridge will be safer and provide better service to the public," Lanteigne said.

The bridge's deck will be 10 metres wide, two metres wider than the current one. The bridge will also be 180 metres, almost 50 metres longer.

Additionally, the new bridge, which is being built immediately to the south of the old bridge, will be placed at a higher elevation so there's less of a dip as traffic comes down the hill to cross the structure.

"It's going to improve the visibility along the highway in that area," said Lanteigne.

The new structure comes with an $18 million price tag that includes the removal of the previous bridge, engineering studies and one kilometre of road realignment.

The project has a completion date of July 2009 but could be finished as early as this November, said Lanteigne.

"It all depends when they can get their concrete in place," she said.

The timeline is weather dependent because the concrete requires good conditions, she said.

During the construction the existing bridge will be kept in use. The work could cause minor delays in traffic but motorists will be kept informed through public announcements and variable message signs along the road, she said.

The Department of Transportation has considered replacing the Kakisa River bridge for a number of years, said Lanteigne. The existing bridge was designed with a 50-year lifespan.

"It's basically reached its lifetime," she said.

The new bridge is designed to last 75 years.

On May 20 information sessions were held in both Kakisa and Fort Providence to inform residents about the plans for the bridge.

"Most everyone was happy to have a new, wider bridge," she said.

Questions focused on traffic delays and job opportunities. Atcon Construction, the company that's building the Deh Cho bridge, has also been awarded the contract for the Kakisa Lake bridge.

"Atcon is generally committed to local involvement and we consider it essential to the success of our Kakisa project," said Dorothy Innes, the manager of communications and public relations for Atcon Group.