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Trip investigates bridge

Fort Providence delegation travels to Fort McMurray

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Providence (Dec 14/01) - Five representatives of a Deh Cho bridge committee travelled to Fort McMurray, Alta., Monday to learn about a bridge.

Interested in erecting a bridge spanning the Mackenzie River, the delegation visited a bridge built by Suncor, an oil and gas company, in the Alberta tar sands.

Sam Gargan, Deh Gah Got'ie Koe chief, who led the delegation, said the open-face bridge, 400 metres in length, was built for $28 million in 1997. A bridge in Fort Providence would stretch close to four times that distance, Gargan said.

Another difference is that the Suncor bridge, which has three pillars, was designed to support a 240-ton truck, he said. A Mackenzie bridge wouldn't necessarily have to withstand loads that heavy, but would require six pillars due to its length, according to Gargan.

A feasibility study for a Mackenzie River bridge has been undertaken. Doug Bryshun, CEO of the band-owned Deh Gah Got'ie Betterment Corporation, described the study's contents as very encouraging. Gargan said "there are numbers being floated around now" by consultants, but said he wouldn't know the estimated cost of the project until the bridge committee's next meeting, likely in January.

When the topic arose last year, initial estimates ranged between $45 million and $60 million.

Gargan said the bridge committee budgeted for the excursion.