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Community gives nod to single-lane crossing

After hearing all the facts, the Big Prairie community has thrown its support behind a single-lane bridge to replace the crossing destroyed by fire in 2009, says the chairman of a citizens' advisory committee working with Mountain View County on the

After hearing all the facts, the Big Prairie community has thrown its support behind a single-lane bridge to replace the crossing destroyed by fire in 2009, says the chairman of a citizens' advisory committee working with Mountain View County on the bridge project.ìI think 90 per cent of the community was satisfied with a single lane, and a minority thought the county should spend moreî to construct a two-lane structure, Dave Street told the Gazette last week, following a public open house at Big Prairie Community Hall on Jan. 27.ìBut we found some common ground and the feeling was: Let's go for it,î Street said.About 70 people attended the meeting, and while most were willing to see the county proceed this year with a one-lane design, some farmers in attendance argued in favour of widening the bridge for safety reasons and to accommodate large industrial and farm machinery.Cost also figured into their argument, as residents learned last month that the county's consulting engineer estimated an eight-metre-wide bridge would cost about $240,000 more to construct, instead of double the $1.3-million cost for a 5.5-metre bridge as originally projected.But the new estimate, residents heard at the meeting, did not include the cost of widening the approaches.ìOn the north side of the bridge the road would require some fairly extensive reconstruction and that could be another $250,000. So the additional cost might be another $500,000 or more and the county was reluctant to spend too much more,î Street said.ìHaving heard the whole story and recognizing the funding is much more complex Ö I think they're reluctantly satisfied with where it's going.îIn an effort to address some of the residents' concerns, the county agreed to have its engineering consultant review the single-lane, three-girder design to make it as wide as possible, so that it will allow heavy equipment to cross.ìThere was some thought they could make it wider without compromising structure,î Street said.Meeting this year's construction schedule was a major factor behind the community's support for proceeding with a one-lane bridge, Div. 2 Coun. Patricia McKean reported to council last Wednesday.ìIt was explained that the delay could result in the construction being delayed until next year,î McKean said.Both time and money will be saved by proceeding now with purchasing girders for the single-lane structure, and residents said if expanding the project's scope was going to cause ìeven a minor delay or hiccup in the schedule, forget it,î Street said.The county, McKean said, would mitigate safety issues with signage and by looking at traffic control options.