GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Water flows on Friday over debris from a bridge on Highway 445 in Melita that was washed out in this month's flooding.
Approximately 30 bridges affected by floodwaters in the southwest corner of Manitoba are considered high priority for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
These bridges are all under provincial jurisdiction and do not include municipal bridges.
"We restricted the weight capacity of the bridges to 10 tonnes only," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton. "If the heavy trucks continue to cross the bridges and cause a bridge to collapse, it will take a lot longer for us to get it fixed."
The province said that flooding and infrastructure damage has seriously affected both oil and agriculture industries in Westman.
The province held a meeting with area municipalities, oil companies and the public in Melita on Friday.
"They recognized and said two of our bridges are high priority," Melita Mayor Bob Walker said yesterday. "There is not a timeline yet because they will need to be fully assessed when the water comes down."
Access to industry necessities such as the grain elevator is frustrating, Walker said. The bridge going there has been reduced to 10 tonnes, so people cannot haul grain and the train cars are sitting empty.
The 30 bridges have been listed as high priority, but until the water recedes, it is not possible to decide the order in which they will be repaired, according a provincial spokesperson.
The government continues to ask for the co-operation of motorists to reduce speed and obey weight restrictions on bridges throughout the region.
River levels on the Assiniboine River are expected to begin receding soon in Brandon, but it is unknown how long it will take to return to normal.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 15, 2014