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City hopes MPI will cover cost of Eighth Street bridge repair

In this January photo, the Eighth Street bridge is seen after a private dump truck hit the structure, forcing its closure. The cost to repair the bridge is pegged at $87,700, which the city hopes Manitoba Public Insurance will cover.

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In this January photo, the Eighth Street bridge is seen after a private dump truck hit the structure, forcing its closure. The cost to repair the bridge is pegged at $87,700, which the city hopes Manitoba Public Insurance will cover. (FILE PHOTO)

Repairing the broken-down Eighth Street bridge will come at a cost of $87,700 — more than twice the original estimate.

But the city is hoping Manitoba Public Insurance will cover the cost so it doesn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers.

"We’ve made the claim, and our expectation is it will be 100 per cent cost relief," city manager Scott Hildebrand said. "There’s always factors that may be unforeseen, but we do expect to get 100 per cent of it back, just like anybody would through a vehicle accident."

The bridge has been out of commission to traffic for nearly three months, when a private dump truck slammed into the structure. The accident happened on Jan. 14, causing major damage to the bridge’s lateral support. Police say the vehicle was taller than the posted clearance under the bridge and the driver was given a fine of $203.80 for disobeying a traffic control device.

While it remains open to pedestrians, its closure to traffic has caused some frustration among residents, motorists and bus passengers.

MPI spokesperson Brian Smiley confirmed that the garbage truck was insured and had a valid policy.

"We have had discussions with the City of Brandon with respect to this particular claim and obviously the claim is a complex one and it needs to be dealt with, with full due diligence," he said.

Typically what happens in a situation where an insured vehicle hits a structure, Smiley says, is MPI will negotiate a claim and "ultimately pay the cost that the vehicle was responsible for," adding they try to reach "a mutual ground."

Smiley said confidentiality prevents MPI from discussing any financial details.

From the city’s perspective, Hildebrand said having only two operating bridges has actually "gone fairly well," in terms of traffic flow.

"Obviously the residents that live there are going to be impacted, and they’re not happy. But from a traffic perspective, I don’t see the congestion and the issues that we once thought," he said.

The city received a total of four bids from construction companies, ranging from $87,000 to $113,000. The lowest bid came from Ben Wiebe Construction Ltd., and was accepted by city council earlier this week.

"They’ve got the green light now that they’ve been awarded the contract," Hildebrand said. "So now they need to order the product in order to make the fix."

The city is anticipating it will take two to three weeks for the contractor to order in the product, followed by one to two weeks for construction.

Hildebrand expects the bridge to be back open for regular operation by mid-May.

"We are going to have the engineering group come out just to a final inspection once the fix is complete," he said. "But we do expect it to be back to normal traffic within four to five weeks from now."

Originally, the city estimated the cost of the repair would be $40,000 and had expected it to be open in February.

But upon further inspection, the accident caused more damage than originally thought, which only delayed the process and added to the cost.

"It was worse than what we thought, it required a bit more engineering, which then required the timeline to change," Hildebrand said.

The other aspect that caused a delay was the fact that the city had to go through the tendering process. It was initially thought that process could be avoided, as the bridge repair was considered a "semi-emergency."

"It’s just been one of those things ... we want to make sure it’s done the right way, and we couldn’t take any chances on it," Hildebrand said. "So we’re doing everything we can to expediate this as fast as we can."

The city has been considering plans for replacing the aging bridge for several years. The bridge is a combination of the original structure that was built in 1934 and a newer portion constructed in 1968.

Council authorized the expenditure for the repair through the Eighth Street Bridge Reserve, to be reimbursed upon receipt of funds from MPI.

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 9, 2014

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Repairing the broken-down Eighth Street bridge will come at a cost of $87,700 — more than twice the original estimate.

But the city is hoping Manitoba Public Insurance will cover the cost so it doesn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers.

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Repairing the broken-down Eighth Street bridge will come at a cost of $87,700 — more than twice the original estimate.

But the city is hoping Manitoba Public Insurance will cover the cost so it doesn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers.

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