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County council looks at bridge
as tourist attraction

reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley) April 11, 2012

Mintlaw Bridge - Fiedler photo

Red Deer County council will turn the Mintlaw Bridge into a tourist attraction, but not until a group steps forward to help with the multi-million-dollar cost of its refurbishment.

Photo by Randy Fiedler, Red Deer Advocate


A former rail bridge across the Red Deer River is well suited as a scenic walkway, but the millions of dollars to make it happen must come from elsewhere, Red Deer County council agreed on Tuesday.

Council voted in favour of accepting the recommendation of consultants to convert the former Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. span into a tourist attraction and link to walking trails, complete with viewing platforms and parking areas.

The cost of upgrading the century-old bridge, which is about six km southwest of Red Deer, is estimated at $2.7 million to $3.2 million. Annual maintenance costs could range up to $250,000.

At those prices, the county is not willing to go ahead with any upgrades without significant outside investment and proposals from groups willing to partner with the municipality, says a report from county staff. In anticipation of proposals, county administration is setting up a process to review them.

Councillor Penny Archibald said she received calls from residents in the immediate vicinity concerned about the prospect of having large numbers of walkers drawn to the area. However, they agreed they had been given a chance to voice their misgivings during the consultation process and Archibald made the motion to accept the bridge study for information.

Jo-Ann Symington, the county's community services manager, said the municipality will not solicit proposals for the bridge. But in anticipation of groups coming forward with ideas, a system will be set up to review submissions, which must be from legally established organizations.

Construction on the bridge began in 1911 and the 633-metre span 33 metres above the river was finished the following year. It is the second longest railway bridge in Alberta, after one in Lethbridge.*

The bridge saw its last train in 1988 and was sold to the county for $1 in 2009. Last year, the county spent about $123,000 replacing rotting wooden supports. In all, about $200,000 has been spent on preserving the bridge, which has been disconnected from the banks on each side as a safety precaution.

Central Alberta Regional Trails Society vice-president Paul Pettypiece was encouraged that council had made a long-term commitment to making the bridge part of a regional trail system.

"Obviously, I'd like to see it in the much shorter term," said Pettypiece.

A couple of area groups plan to make proposals to "move it along a little faster," he said. "Ultimately, it will be council's decision and we will have to work with that."
Pettypiece expressed optimism that the will and potential for funding were available to get the project moving.

* Note: A correction in the April 14 edition of the Advocate states: "A story on the Mintlaw Bridge on A2 in the April 11 Advocate contains incorrect information. The bridge is the second longest CPR steel trestle bridge in Western Canada."

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: 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: Repairs planned for crumbling CPR bridge
(Red Deer Advocate Feb.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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