Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/7/2019 (875 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s not every day that someone offers you two wooden bridges.
For Trails Manitoba, the not-for-profit responsible for Manitoba’s portion of The Great Trail (the new name for the Trans Canada Trail), it was a real blessing in disguise.
The bridges were installed in King’s Park, a city-owned regional community park in Fort Richmond. They had a unique, eastern-inspired architectural style to complement a small pagoda. The arched bridges were nestled into meandering pathways near a waterfall and pond.
The City of Winnipeg completed a study of King’s Park and subsequent master plan in 2016. During this time, the bridges were identified as an accessibility issue, as their rounded slopes were not suitable for barrier-free access in this public park.
Evan Manning, an engineer from Pier Solutions/Fort Richmond Construction, was familiar with Trails Manitoba, as he had bid on a four-bridge tender in 2016 — an ambitious effort to install bridges over Caribou Creek, Cabin Lake, and Rennie River in the North Whiteshell and Hanson’s Creek on the Centennial Trail.
Due to budget constraints, Trails Manitoba was only able to install two of the four structures — at Caribou Creek and Rennie River.
Pier Solutions was hired by the City of Winnipeg to remove and replace the bridges from King’s Park. An evaluation of the King’s Park structures revealed they still had an estimated life span of 30 years (post refurbishment) and that they were the ideal size for the gaps remaining at Cabin Lake and Hanson’s Creek.
The location at Hanson’s Creek is about an hour’s hike south of the Bear Lake Hiking Trail parking lot along the Centennial Trail.
During high water season, the creek is very difficult to cross, limiting access to portions of the trail. The Centennial Trail is a rugged backcountry trail and therefore not a barrier-free environment. As a result, providing a universally accessible bridge was not a requirement of the project.
With the co-ordination of Pier Solutions, Manitoba Sustainable Development and Cindy Bell of the local Centennial Trail group along with financial support from the Trans Canada Trail (still the name of the body which looks after The Great Trail), Trails Manitoba, and Pier Solutions, the relocation of the bridge to Hanson’s Creek became a reality.
The bridge was refurbished and painted a bold, red colour, much like at King’s Park.
Pier Solutions prepped the remote site, heated, hoarded and poured concrete, and moved materials over the frozen Hanson’s Creek with an all-terrain vehicle. The dismantled bridge rails and girders were shipped to Whiteshell Provincial Park.
On a frigid morning in January 2019, everything was lifted and transported by helicopter to its final destination. Final assembly, touch-up painting, and decking was installed in early May.
The crossing of Hanson’s Creek is now complete and the Centennial Trail now hosts a stunning red bridge against a beautiful boreal forest backdrop.
The second red bridge from King’s Park is slated to be refurbished and installed in the North Whiteshell at Cabin Lake.
Darcy Granove is provincial trails manager for Trails Manitoba and owner and principal landscape architect of Little Bluestem Landscape Architecture.