Sicamous mayor addresses Main Street bridge misinformation

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure host open house on proposed options for Bruhn Bridge replacement.

Construction of a Main Street bridge, in conjunction with the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge, will not result in Highway 1 traffic being rerouted through downtown Sicamous.

On Nov. 15, the representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure hosted an open house at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre. The information session was an opportunity to view and provide feedback on the three options proposed for the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge. While the meeting was well-attended, with around 250 people, Mayor Terry Rysz said he and council are still coming up against misinformation, especially in relation to his and council’s preferred option, which would see the Bruhn replaced with a four-lane bridge and a separate bridge constructed at Main Street.

One of the misconceptions, says Rysz, is that Trans-Canada Highway traffic would be rerouted onto the Main Street bridge while the Bruhn is under construction.

“With the two-bridge option, the bridge that goes across the channel will remain there they’re going to build the four-lane bridge alongside the remaining bridge on the highway,” said Rysz. “The only thing the extra bridge does is eliminate the access to Old Spallumcheen Road. Old Spallumcheen Road and the west side of the channel will then become attached to the rest of the community by the Main Street bridge.”

Council is also trying to address questions around maintenance responsibility and associated costs for a Main Street bridge. Should the province decide to go with the two bridge option, Rysz said council would pursue a maintenance agreement that is favourable to the district.

“If we do the Main Street bridge option, we have to make sure we don’t saddle ourselves with a bunch of responsibility we’re going to have to deal with at a later date,” said Rysz.

As for rumours the annual maintenance cost could be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000, Rysz said he has discussed this with Coun. Malcolm Makeyev, a former project manager with MOTI, and is doubtful it would be that much.

“When it comes to the cost of maintenance and whatnot, we might have to put some paint on the bridge over a period of 15 or 20 years, but he doesn’t feel the maintenance would be that high on that bridge,” said Rysz.

Council, however, has asked MOTI to provide additional information on maintenance costs.

While attending the open house, resident John Schlosar said he was pleased with the turnout and the information provided. But he says residents need more information in order to understand the long-term advantages and disadvantages of each of the presented options.

“I’m optimistic that council will have their ears open and listen to what people are sort of saying… and possibly do a survey and say, listen, we need to dive deeper quickly on this.”

Rysz said there’s flaws to all of the options and, subsequently, a lot of negotiating remains to be done by council.

“We’re totally in the preliminary stages of this,” said Rysz. “I see this not taking place for two or three years down the line.”

The public has until Nov. 29 to fill out a MOTI survey on the bridge replacement options. A link can be found on the District of Sicamous website.