The Souris Swinging Bridge will reach new heights in upcoming months as reconstruction of the former community landmark is set to begin sometime this week.
The historic bridge was the longest of its kind in Canada, spanning 177 metres, before the structure was intentionally cut loose during the flooding of the Souris River in 2011. Town officials feared that floodwaters would rip the suspension bridge’s anchors out of the earth and take a part of an essential earth dike with them, putting the entire community at risk.
The Souris bridge is just one of the many ongoing flood-related projects in Manitoba as communities attempt to rebuild damaged infrastructure.
"There are all kinds of construction going on across the province trying to rebuild from the flood, and this was something we were very happy to see go through," Souris Mayor Darryl Jackson said.
The new bridge will span 184 metres, reclaiming its former title as the longest swinging bridge in Canada, and will reach new heights in hopes that it will be able to beat the threat of a future flood.
"It’s going to be supported high up on the bank on either side, higher above the water than it originally was," Jackson said.
Another new feature included in the design will be a different kind of movement that those brave enough to cross it will get to experience.
"It’s not going to be so much of a bouncy up and down anymore, it will sway from side to side."
Jackson added that they hope to have the bridge completed and ready for tourist season by late June or early July.
"We’re planning on having a grand opening, but we are leaving that till the end of July or August long weekend," he said.
"It’ll be something fairly splashy."
The community of more than 1,800 people will have lots to celebrate as they reopen the former route that has been used to connect a community divided by the Souris River.
"Certainly over the last two years we have really missed it, not just from a tourist point of view but from the fact that locals used it previously every day to go back and forth to work, to shop and visit at the hospital," Jackson said.
The Souris Swinging Bridge, being no stranger to the effects of raging floodwaters in the past, has seen its fair share of repairs since it was first erected in 1904.
In 1976, floodwaters completely dismantled the bridge, forcing several repairs to ensure its strength.
Jackson said the new bridge is going to cost roughly $3.8 million to rebuild with some funds coming from the Disaster Financial Assistance program.