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|September 8th, 2007, 09:12 AM||#9|
Salad Days Are Here
Join Date: Apr 2007
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West-end footbridge closer to reality
Gordon Kent, edmonton journal.com
Published: yesterday 9:23 pm
A key piece of the North Saskatchewan River valley's ribbon of green is poised to be constructed after years of delays caused by land issues and lack of money.
A city council report recommends using provincial grant money to cover most of the $20.4-million cost of building a footbridge south of Fort Edmonton Park.
The bridge would extend over the river, where people would find a staircase and multi-use trails leading to the top of the riverbank and into the west-end communities of Rio Terrace, Patricia Heights and Laurier Heights.
"I think that this part of the river
valley, particularly on the north side, doesn't have good access to the trail system," parks planner Gabriele Barry said Friday.
"This, to me, represents a major stepping-stone for us in terms of the trail extension."
The project has been part of long-term plans for the valley since 1990. In 2004, a site for the bridge still hadn't been secured, so funding was diverted to cover the budget overruns on the Shaw Conference Centre's Hall D.
The landscape, plants and wildlife,
particularly in the Patricia Ravine, make it a sensitive area which now has only
single-track paths, Barry said.
While the cost of the work, being discussed Tuesday at city council, has risen sharply from an estimated $12.6 million in July 2006, the current figure includes provisions for inflation and contingencies, Barry said. People were positive about the designs they were shown at an open house last April, she said. Another public meeting is set for November. If approved, the work would start next April and be finished by the fall of 2009.
Barry hopes the proposed cable suspension bridge will make it possible to build a trail south toward Terwillegar Park.
Coun. Karen Leibovici supports using the grant money for this project, saying it's essential for future development of the North Saskatchewan park system.
"It provides a vital connector from, obviously, north to south, but also along the river valley," she said.
"It's the next logical extension of the ribbon of green. That's why it was considered a priority to be built."
Last July, councillors endorsed a report from the River Valley Alliance, outlining a $605-million scheme to establish one of the world's largest metropolitan parks, stretching 88 kilometres from Fort Saskatchewan to Devon.