Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Souris eager for bridge to reopen

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Work on the Souris Swinging Bridge is going swimmingly.

Souris Mayor Darryl Jackson said he still hopes to have the bridge open for the August long weekend after the project was delayed earlier in the season.

Despite the Souris River's high water levels, all the cables are installed and now it's a matter of installing the decking, Jackson said.

"I'm hoping they can get that all accomplished," he said. "We haven't heard any different.

"These last three months, so much of it has been down under ground, you can't really see what they were doing, and there was steel and concrete to no end."

The bridge will replace one with a 177-metre-long span, which had to be cut free during Souris River flooding in 2011. The town was afraid the water would rip the anchors out of the ground on either side, taking an earth dike with it.

The new bridge will span 184 metres, reclaiming its former title as the longest swinging bridge in Canada, and reach new heights in hopes it will be able to withstand the threat of a future flood.

Jackson said the area's tourism industry has taken a serious beating as a result of the construction, adding without the bridge, people driving down Highway 1 simply drive past instead of coming into town.

"I'm sure they see that 'Swinging bridge closed' sign and just keep right on going. They don't come down and see us," he said.

In late March, contractors hit a water main on the east side of the bridge while drilling into the ground, and a few weeks later, workers hit a water line on west side, delaying the project.

Construction material made its way into the line and to prevent it from going to the plant, a camera was sent down the line to see if any sediment was present, which proved to be a time-consuming ordeal.

The Hillcrest Museum, which relies on the bridge for foot traffic, has taken the brunt of the economic beating, Jackson said, with visitor numbers way down.

The bridge is still scheduled to open in a few weeks, but Jackson said the town might hold back on a grand opening until Canada Day 2014.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2013 A11

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