Work to rebuild the Beaver River Trestle appeared to suffer yet another setback last week after a large amount of timber construction crews had brought in to use on the project was stolen from a storage area in Cold Lake.
According to Marianne Price, administrative coordinator for Alberta's Iron Horse Trail, four hefty pieces of lumber were snatched from the Cold Lake staging area, located behind the McDonald's on Highway 28, sometime on July 21.
Speaking to the Nouvelle last week, Price admitted she was “bitterly disappointed” to see someone stealing materials originally bought for the betterment of the entire community.
“It's really disheartening to see someone targeting materials purchased for the (reconstruction) of the Beaver River Trestle, but then this whole project has been disheartening from the get go considering the sole reason we're in the position of having to rebuild the trestle is because of an act of crime,” Price said.
The Beaver River Trestle was severely damaged by a fire in June 2012 after a lit car was pushed off of the north end embankment, becoming lodged in the structure and causing it to go up in flames.
Representatives from the Town of Bonnyville, MD of Bonnyville and City of Cold Lake, along with members of the construction team, Northeast Muni-Corr and the Riverland Recreational Trail Society gathered at the trestle site back in May to announce the near $1.6 million restoration of the landmark would be moving forward.
According to Price, the loss of the timber will not delay construction with work crews now expected to be on site seven days a week in an attempt to complete the project before the winter weather once again descends upon the region.
“This won't affect our construction efforts, it's just disappointing that it's happened,” Price said. “I've spoken to our crew and they're going to be moving all the lumber and other materials from the staging area out to the trestle, where they will now be working around the clock to complete the work.”
While the construction crews are hoping to have the trestle rebuilt by mid-September, Price said she expects work to conclude by the end of October – just in time for snowmobile season.
“This specific part of the trail is part of the Trans-Canadian snowmobile trail and is the connector between Alberta and Saskatchewan, so it's been a real miss (while the Trestle has been out of commission),” Price said. “But on top of that, during the summer, it connects the trail to the City of Cold Lake. As a result of that Cold Lake ends up being a premium destination for those using the trail.”
She added, “Unfortunately, in recent years, it has stopped being such a popular destination. Before, people could simply cross the trestle and continue on their way, but since the fire those people have been forced to turn around and go to other communities. It's taken away (from the City of Cold Lake) and has really taken away from the user experience of the Iron Horse Trail.”
“I'm really excited for work to commence and can't wait (for the Trestle) to reopen (later this year),” Price continued.
In the meantime, Price made a plea to the public to assist RCMP in their efforts to locate the stolen timber.
“Local RCMP has been on site and while there's not much for them to follow up on right now, the public could play a big part in this investigation,” Price said. “These are big pieces of timber. They're going to stick out. If anybody has any information, please contact local RCMP.”
Should you have any information on the theft of the timbers, you can reach Cold Lake RCMP at 780-594-3301. Alternatively, you could contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.