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September 17, 2018

Bridge in rural Saskatchewan gives way hours after opening


Part of a bridge in the Rural Municipality of Clayton fell into a river on the day it was opened to traffic.

Reeve Duane Hicks was standing on the recently replaced Dyck Memorial Bridge just an hour before a roughly 15-foot span gave way shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

“I feel a little bad about it, a little spooky,” he said. “You can’t ever tell when you’re going to die. Thank God I wasn’t there when it happened. Thank God nobody else was.”

The bridge, which had just been completed, crossed the Swan River just west of Swan Plain. No one was injured in the incident. Hicks called it an “act of God,” insisting the bridge was built to standard.

“Something underneath the riverbed just gave way, and one whole section just sort of dropped,” he said.

The RM of Clayton is located north of Canora and Yorkton in east-central Saskatchewan.

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Hicks said the foreman phoned him on Friday, before the collapse, to tell him that “something isn’t quite right here.” Hicks and an RM councillor drove to the site to take a look. He said it appeared that the pilings were sinking.

About an hour later, a nearby farmer heard “a big sloosh,” Hicks explained. A neighbour joined in to help and the two farmers called 911 and took action to close the bridge to traffic.

“They saved, potentially, people’s lives,” said Hicks. “Because if you’re driving along, not looking, that would be a hell of a hole to drive into.”

The specific cause of the bridge’s weakness is still a mystery, according to Hicks, who said the Regina-based construction and engineering companies will now conduct an investigation.

“They don’t know if there’s an air or gas pocket or underground river or whatever,” he said.

“It wasn’t structurally faulty. The fault is in what God did under the river.”

The loss of the crossing will not impose any additional costs on the RM, Hicks said. He explained that the RM had not yet signed off on the bridge, which was under warranty.

“It’s their dime,” he said of the construction and engineering companies.

Keep reading in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix


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