Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) has found some potential cost savings through optimizing the alignment of a portion of the Midland berm in North Drumheller by utilizing the old CN Rail embankment.
DRFMO project director Deighen Blakely presented the proposed alignment change to council at the Monday, February 13 Committee of the Whole meeting and noted the new alignment would have cost savings of an estimated $350,000.
“Following receiving the tenders for the Midland flood berm we took a look at the costs for the overall project and, specifically, the leg on the west end of the project that runs parallel to 25 Street NW and ties to higher ground at North Dinosaur Trail (Highway 838),” Ms. Blakely explained during the meeting.
The original design would see a new berm structure some 200 metres in length, and is estimated to cost some $714,800 to build this leg of the Midland berm alone.
She noted using the rail embankment was also considered, especially considering it has withstood numerous floods over more than 100 years. Since the Town of Drumheller signed a 25 year lease agreement with CN Rail to allow the Town to use former rail right of ways for its Rails to Trails network it was wondered if there might be an opportunity to use this embankment.
Although the new alignment will have some additional costs to survey, engineer, and design, it is anticipated there will be cost savings of some $350,000. The rail embankment will also have a top width of approximately 9.5 metres compared to the approved 4 metre top width of other berms.
Councillor Tom Zariski questioned whether CN Rail had been consulted regarding this alignment change, as the land still belongs to CN and the Town is only leasing it.
In a statement to the Mail, Ms. Blakely says,
“...the Town has an agreement in place to use the CN Rail for pathways, which involves work very similar to what we are proposing (for the Midland berm realignment). The Flood Office also has an agreement in place to alter the CN Rail embankment on the originally proposed alignment, by digging into it and replacing the material with clay.”
She adds drawings for the proposed alignment will be circulated to CN Rail once complete, but does not anticipate isues due to these existing agreements.
It was noted this alignment was one of the suggestions council has heard from the community and is an example of how community input is important to the project, though was not necessarily inspired by these conversations.