Sicamous residents view the three options for the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge presented at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s recent community information meeting.

Sicamous council requests extension on bridge decision

Sicamous council asks province for more time to make a decision on a replacement for the Bruhn Bridge

Sicamous council wants more time to make a decision on a replacement for the Bruhn Bridge.

Council will be asking the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to extend council’s deadline to make a decision on a replacement option for the Bruhn.

“MOTI kind of gave us a deadline as to where we’re going to stand with the Bruhn Bridge, so we had lots of discussion today on that in our in-camera meeting and we asked for an extension…,” said Mayor Terry Rysz at the Nov. 23 council meeting. Rysz said an extension would give council more time to engage the community and gather more public input on the three replacement options presented by the ministry.

“This is really very important to the community,” said Rysz. “This is probably going to be the biggest single decision this council is going to be making over their term and it has a huge impact.”

Later in the meeting, council appointed Coun. Malcolm Makayev to be the district’s representative with MOTI’s project liaison committee for the Bruhn replacement. The intent of the committee is to provide “purposeful engagement with staff from other local governments, municipalities and utilities with interests along the highway corridor during the planning phase of the project.”

Makayev was also voted to be the district’s representative on MOTI’s Sicamous Transportation Review (from Silver Sands Road to Kerr Road). The review was spurred by the ministry’s plans to four lane the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border, and the District of Sicamous’ desire to determine what impact this will have on the community.

A related MOTI document states the “purpose of this assignment is to review Highway 1 access needs and investigate future capacity requirements (four-laning) through Sicamous.”

The document shows the review will also include an investigation of a new Eagle River crossing location, to “facilitate the replacement of the Solsqua-Sicamous Road Bridge that is compatible with future Highway 1 corridor plans.”

“The structure is nearing the end of its life and requiring replacement in the next 3-5 years. This investigation is intended to provide guidance to the District of Sicamous concerning the future replacement…”

During council question period, Esther DeGraw encouraged the district to mail MOTI’s survey for the Bruhn Bridge Replacement Project directly to Sicamous taxpayers.

The survey deadline was Nov. 29, though it still available at https://interceptum.com/s/en/BCHwy1-BruhnBridge-Nov2016

Though she didn’t say which bridge option she prefers, DeGraw called attention to the mayor’s stated preference of Option 3, which includes a four-lane replacement of the Bruhn Bridge, as well as a second, two-lane bridge at the end of Main Street.

“You sat at my home and you said there was no way that you guys would accept this Main Street bridge if it was going to cost the taxpayers,” said DeGraw. “Now, all of a sudden, well, we’re going to work a deal with the (ministry). That isn’t going to happen. We all know it isn’t. If you do the Main Street bridge, you know that will be our bridge.”

In response, Coun. Jeff Mallmes said he likes the Main Street option, but not if the district would be responsible for its maintenance or “for replacing it in 75 years not in 10 or 12 years like some people think.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you build four lanes on the highway; you build six lanes on the highway, you build four lanes on the highway and you build two lanes in Sicamous, it’s still a six-lane bridge. It should be theirs, it shouldn’t be ours,” said Mallmes. “They should be responsible for the maintenance and they should be responsible for the replacement of it…

“So let’s put that myth to sleep; this council does not want to saddle future generations with a big bill.”

Council has also asked MOTI to provide estimates for annual maintenance and repair costs for the proposed Main Street bridge.