After a one-year delay, a Rocky View County (RVC) flood mitigation project is finally underway in Bragg Creek.
According to Doug Hafichuk, RVC's manager of capital projects, crews were on site as of June 10.
“It’s obviously been several years in the making, through the land acquisition, all the regulatory approvals and some of the funding challenges we had along the way,” he said. “But we’re green-lit for construction and we have crews mobilized and working in the community today.”
The County received an additional $9.4 million from the Alberta government, announced June 3, to support its flood protection efforts in the hamlet, which is intended to help prevent the level of devastation Bragg Creek experienced in 2013.
According to John Muir, communications director for Alberta Environment and Parks, the County requested additional funding to ensure the entire project would be completed following construction tender bids received for an updated design. Initial cost estimates completed in 2015 did not include a bridge replacement on Bracken Road or several metres of bank armouring and flood barrier structures.
“During the detailed design phase, it was concluded that additional measures were needed to ensure Bragg Creek would be sufficiently protected against a one-in-one-hundred-years flood,” Muir said. “The additional funding is tied directly to additional flood mitigation measures that were not identified in the preliminary design.”
The province previously provided $32.8 million for flood protection for Bragg Creek. The additional $9.4 million will allow RVC to increase the length of flood barriers to nearly four kilometres, replace the Bracken Road bridge and stabilize an additional 475 metres of riverbank, Muir said.
The project is expected to create about 60 jobs during the construction phase, according to a press release from the Alberta government.
The construction focus this year, Hafichuk said, will be on the east side of the Elbow River, extending from the boundaries of the southern portions of White Avenue up to the tip of River Drive North.
“It will be a couple of kilometres of construction this year in and around the riverbanks,” he said. “We will also be in the river during certain portions of the year, doing bank stabilization and putting the berms in place.”
Project completion for both the east and west sides of the river is scheduled for the end of next year, Hafichuk said. Work this year is likely to last throughout the summer and into the fall.
He added residents and visitors should expect some additional traffic on the roads near where construction is taking place – particularly along Balsam Avenue, River Drive and portions of Whyte Avenue.
“To bring in the amount of earth and fill we need for the berms, we’re talking about…perhaps as many as 1,000 truckloads,” he said. “When you start spacing that out over a four-month period, it’s realistic to think you’ll see some traffic impacts.”
The construction comes with some environmental challenges due to the eco-sensitive area the work is taking place in, Hafichuk said.
“We have migratory birds to worry about, fish habitats and the health of the watershed itself,” he said. “There are certain restrictive periods in which we can and cannot do work.”
Given the delay the project experienced last year, Hafichuk said RVC wants to thank residents of Bragg Creek for their patience over the years as the County worked to secure funds and approvals for the project.
“We’ve had hundreds of meetings with individual residents and local groups and businesses – the community has been incredibly helpful in getting this put together,” he said.
Scott Strasser, hzlatk.com
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19