By Capt Roderick Facey, 41 Combat Engineer Regiment
41 Combat Engineering Regiment has enjoyed for many years a long standing relationship with the Town of Vegreville. The unit has supported year after year Remembrance Day activities within the community. The unit has also provided man-power assistance in the completion of several community-based projects. Most notable was the construction of a 8 ft wide by 60 ft long wood/steel pedestrian walkway bridge in the Elk / Kinsmen Park back in 2007 that was later dedicated in the name of LCol. Dan O’Keefe, Commanding Officer of 41 CER.
The Vegreville Elk / Kinsmen Park is home to the world’s largest Pysanka “Eastern Egg”. The park is open year-round and features both a trout pond and a meandering river that crosses through the park. On display also is a restored CN Caboose to celebrate Canadian rail history.
In late 2018, the Town of Vegreville called on 41 CER for help. The community was faced with a dilapidated pedestrian walkway bridge in the Elk / Kinsmen Park that was in dire need of replacement. The existing wooden walkway bridge was badly aged and showing signs of structural integrity issues. Upon receiving the call, 41 CER jumped to the opportunity, not only to help a trusted friend, but the training opportunity such a project had to offer to the unit. The unit in undertaking this project would be able to practice its design skills, project management skills and use its equipment and resources, allowing Sappers to employ and practice their small tool skills.
In June of 2019, 41 CER mobilized to begin the design and fabrication of the pedestrian walkway lead by both Capt. Roderick Facey and Sgt Tom Troost. Both of whom were also responsible to the 2007 pedestrian walkway bridge project. 41 CER would provide the expertise and the man-power necessary to build the bridge, while the Town of Vegreville provided all materials and any rental equipment not within the resource capacity of 41 CER.
The bridge was designed in accordance to the applicable codes and standards that oversee bridge design in Alberta. Personnel prepared detailed construction AutoCAD drawings that were professionally stamped by the project engineer, a registered practicing Professional Engineer within the unit. Work commenced with shop fabrication of the bridge superstructure at the Debney Armoury, comprising of the bridge end frames and steel support beams. These steel components had to be welded together to form the base of the bridge which then be crane into place onto its foundation. Shop fabrication to complete this work took approximately 8 weeks and was completed during the months of June & July. Pte Ken Gingras was the welder who patiently worked to assemble the components with the help of members on the Full Time Summer Employment program.
Upon completion of the shop work, a select group of personnel from both Calgary and Edmonton of 41 CER deployed to site on the Monday of August 19 under the leadership of Sgt Tom Troost to begin construction of the bridge foundations. Concrete Loc-Blocks, assembled and connected using connecting bars, formed the basis of the bridge foundation. They were installed within a shallow foundation on top of gravel layer complete with a weeping tile drainage system. By Friday morning of that week the bridge foundations were complete and the bridge superstructure was ready to be craned into place. Using a 90 tonne capacity rental crane, 41 CER oversaw the lifting and placement of the 8 ft wide by 60 ft long bridge superstructure onto its foundation. Following placement, the Sappers of 41 CER then installed the decking and rails and constructed the ramps to and from the bridge. Cpl Allain Campea oversaw the ramp construction and surveying.
Within seven days of arriving on site the 8 ft wide by 60 ft long pedestrian walkway bridge was complete. The people of Vegreville both watched the construction and later celebrated 41 CER’s achievement and their new community bridge on the Saturday night, where a good time was had by all.
In summary, the pedestrian walkway bridge project was an invaluable training opportunity. Members of 41 CER were given the opportunity to both practice and learn new skills. The Town of Vegreville has a new pedestrian bridge and they very thankful. The completion of this project further deeps the relationship 41 CER has with the Town of Vegreville. This project will be remembered and talked by many for the pride it has instilled in both the public and CF members alike.