Vehicles pass through speed dips located at both ends of the Eagle River Bridge. The dips were intended to prolong the life of the bridge

Vehicles pass through speed dips located at both ends of the Eagle River Bridge. The dips were intended to prolong the life of the bridge

District to begin planning for bridge replacement

Engineers estimate Eagle River Bridge will need to be replaced in five years.

The dips stay while the bridge is on its way out.

Once again, district council debated removing the speed dips on either side of the Eagle River Bridge. This stemmed from a recommendation by staff to have them removed in order to take advantage of paving that will be occurring soon at the bridge in relation to recent water and sewer line upgrades. Staff notes that All-Span Engineering, the company conducting a site investigation of the bridge, is of the opinion that the speed dips are irrelevant to the lifespan of the bridge, which they estimate to be another five years provided no rotted or distressed piles are uncovered.

“The results of the pile inspection will not change the comments in our report regarding the dips… the results will only allow or deny us to presume five more years life for the bridge.”

Coun. Suzanne Carpenter, however, cited an earlier report by another engineering firm that argues the dips are necessary to reduce the speed and impact on the failing bridge.

“Now we have a new report from a different engineering company that will make a few councillors happy, and they say that the speed dips are useless,” said Carpenter. “I truly believe that no amount of traffic speed signs will slow people down, but the dips definitely do. And I believe that they slow down the deterioration of the bridge, and I’m wishing tonight that we leave the speed dips.”

While council supported a motion to restrict load limits on the bridge, another to remove the dips was defeated, with Couns. Terry Rysz and Don Richardson opposed. Following this vote, Richardson spoke against the decision, arguing council was wasting money.

“This is getting to be nonsense, we’re playing around with speed dips… We better start becoming prudent with what’s going on here,” said Richardson, who was then reminded by Ryzs, acting as deputy mayor, that the motion was defeated and the speed dips stay.

Council was of like mind, however, regarding the bridge itself, and how the district needs to begin making plans for its replacement.

“I think one of the things that we do have to realize is this bridge does have a very limited lifespan,” commented Coun. Fred Busch. “They’re talking about hoping to get another five years, so I think it would only be good governance for us to pursue how we’re going to replace this bridge and where we’re going to replace it.”

Busch made not of past discussion between the district and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about aligning the bridge’s replacement with Highway 97A.

“We have to keep in mind that to replace this bridge is perhaps five or six million dollars, which I don’t think we have stored away in our bank account or in our reserves, especially since now we’re also paying for a water treatment plant,” said Busch. “But if this bridge should, at some time, fail, we would be in  very serious trouble, the District of Sicamous, because there is a lot of traffic that goes across there on a daily basis, not just commercial traffic.”

Rysz agreed with Busch, and said council shouldn’t be waiting for MOTI to start making plans. Rysz noted he had spoken with Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, who is in agreement. Rysz also suggested council pursue the matter with the province at this month’s Union of BC Municipalities convention, adding there might also be federal funds available for the project through the Building Canada fund.

“We will be getting a fairly substantial report… probably somewhere around January 2015,” said Rysz. “Once we get that report, it’s going to give us an indication of how much it’s going to cost us to replace. At that particular time, then we can probably really seriously go after the funding to get this thing done.”