Salmon Arm won’t be losing a bridge when the Salmon Arm West four-laning project is complete.
Along with building a new, modern bridge over the Salmon River, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways will be upgrading the existing one.
“The nice thing about keeping the bridge is the ministry is going to be throwing quite a bit of money at bringing it up to today’s standards,” said Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works. “So we’re not inheriting an old bridge, we’re going to be inheriting a rejuvenated bridge.”
Niewenhuizen provided an update on the four-laning project at a recent Chamber of Commerce lunch.
The design of the project is going to function well, he says, and the existing highway will form the city’s new service road.
“It is awesome to have that extra road go around so that if something happens on the bridge or on the highway, we can bypass the highway with the service roads.”
Roundabouts will be on either side of the new section.
He explained that the project has three phases: 1. from the waterslides to Westgate Mall; 2. from Westgate Mall to First Nations Road and First Avenue; and 3. through Neskonlith Band land.
However, he says the ministry has pulled the project back and is going to finish the work on the bridge now.
The construction that’s visible from the highway is the preload, he says.
Because the site is in the valley floor, there’s lots of peat and clay so the contractors have to put lots of excess material on it. They allow it to settle, he says, and then they can determine how much they can take off.
“The bridge isn’t actually going to be that high. It’s going to be quite large but it’s not going to be quite that high.”
Once the geotechnical engineers say it’s good to go, the contractors will strip off the extra material and use it for other parts of the project such as base for the road, Niewenhuizen explains.
He said the paving project is expected to be tendered out right after the preload is approved, preferably this spring.
Negotiations are ongoing with the Neskonlith and Adams Lake bands for portions of the project.
He said the city has planned for a long time to work with the ministry to install signals and make the 20th Street SW intersection in front of Westgate Mall a sort of west entrance to the community.
“With this project they (the ministry) will be doing that for us. There’s no cost to the taxpayers for that.”
Niewenhuizen added that the city is partnering with the ministry on a lot of infrastructure so there is a cost to it.