This summer, the last wood stave culvert in Sturgeon County reached the end of its service life with the County. It was dug up and replaced with a new concrete box culvert as part of the Villeneuve Drainage Channel Project along Range Road 263.
Wood stave culverts were built similar to wooden barrels: a series of beveled wooden planks pressed together by steel bands. The Villeneuve culvert was installed in 1966, and it was the last one in use in Sturgeon County. The other most recent wood stave culvert in the County was replaced in 2020.
According to the Alberta Bridge Information System, the culvert was one of six bridge sized wood stave culverts still being used in Alberta. The province classifies a bridge sized culvert as having a diameter of 1500mm or larger, or multiple pipes with an equivalent capacity to 1500mm. Smaller wood stave culverts could have been used, or are still being used, but they are not tracked in a provincial bridge database in the same way that larger culverts are.
The new Concrete Box Culvert being installed this year has an opening that measures 2.4m by 2.4m and is 19m long with a 100-year design life. It has been sized accordingly to ensure that is has sufficient capacity to handle both current and expected drainage flows in the years to come.
The wood from the culvert was so well preserved in Sturgeon County soil that it is finding new life west of the County. A farmer in Lac Ste. Anne County is repurposing the wood for farm structures.