The Yukon government has agreed to cover the extra $1 million needed to fix Ross River’s footbridge.
In July, bids for the last phase of repairs to the bridge, which dates back to 1944, came in at $4 million, about $1 million more than the Yukon government had originally estimated.
The extra million dollars will be coming out of the territorial government’s general revenues, Community Services Minister John Streicker said this Sept. 8.
That brings the Yukon’s contribution to this phase of the project up to $1.75 million. Ottawa has already agreed to chip in up to $2.25 million.
The contract has been awarded to Surespan Construction Ltd. out of North Vancouver.
Streicker said the government will be talking to the company about ways to lower costs but he doesn’t anticipate the price will come down.
He said the government waited to make a decision about spending the extra money until after it had spoken to the Ross River Dena Council.
Streicker went to Ross River on Aug. 23. Chief Jack Caesar asked for more time to discuss the issue with council, and there were follow-up calls the week after, the minister said.
“We took the time to go back and talk to chief and council to really make sure this was a priority to them because it was more expensive.”
Streicker said the meeting “reinforced” how important the bridge is to the community.
The Ross River bridge was constructed by the U.S. Army to carry an oil pipeline over the river and later retrofitted as a footbridge. It’s the only thing that connects the two sides of the Pelly River during freeze-up and break-up when the ferry can’t run.
In 2013 engineers found that the bridge was unsafe and needed to come down. The community protested and the Yukon Party government agreed to save it.
About $1.6 million in combined federal and territorial money has already been spent on the first phase of repairs to stabilize the north and south towers.
The final stage of repairs, which will mean the bridge can be walked on again, will include new stairs, cables, anchors and decking.
Streicker couldn’t say when the latest work on the bridge will happen. The hope originally was to have everything done this summer.
“It’s obviously going to be a little bit later because we had to have those conversations,” he said.
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