Yukon counting on federal cash to fix Ross River bridge

Officials with the Department of Community Services are crossing their fingers and hoping federal money will appear to help fix Ross River's footbridge.

Officials with the Department of Community Services are crossing their fingers and hoping federal money will appear to help fix Ross River’s footbridge.

The bridge over the Pelly River was slated to be torn down last year after an engineering report found it was at risk of imminent collapse and posed a threat to human safety.

But a public outcry forced the government to re-think its plan and come up with a way to salvage it.

The first stage of the repair work was done earlier this year to stabilize the dangerous structure.

But before anyone can safely walk on the bridge again, new stairs need to be built, the decking needs to be repaired and the cabling replaced.

In the legislature Tuesday, Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said the government is hoping for federal money from the newly elected Liberal government to cover the work.

“I have noted before that there is currently a significant degree of uncertainty with federal infrastructure funding, but we are hopeful that this bridge will indeed be eligible for that type of funding,” he said.

“It remains to be seen what sort of priorities and what sort of structure the new federal government will put in place for infrastructure funding.

“Once we have an understanding of what that is going to be, we will move forward with our partners to explore options for funding that project.”

The bridge was constructed by the U.S. Army in 1944 to carry an oil pipeline over the river, and was later retrofitted as a footbridge.

Last spring, after news broke that the bridge would be torn down, protesters camped out around the clock on the Pelly River ice to prevent the demolition from occurring. Shortly afterwards the government changed course and began looking at repairing the bridge.

Dixon told the legislature the government has already spent $1.5 million from the federal Build Canada program to stabilize the bridge, “which enabled the preservation of its heritage value and ensured public safety.”

According to the department, the next phase of the repairs should cost another $2.3 million, but a more accurate figure will come out once the territory secures funding and tenders the work involved.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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