Terry Rysz views a potential bridge at Main Street as a potential gift from the province to the District of Sicamous.
The prospect of the B.C. Government building such a bridge became easier to envision last week with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s (MOTI) release of a May 2016 document entitled Trans-Canada Highway 1: RW Bruhn Bridge Replacement. This document contains an overview of work done on the project to date, as well as three options for the bridge’s replacement. The document notes the preferred option is to have the Bruhn Bridge replaced with a four-lane structure, accompanied by a second bridge at Main Street. Among its advantages, this option would allow traffic to use one bridge while the other is constructed.
While the project is still at a preliminary stage, with public consultation to come, Rysz confirmed the option including a bridge at Main Street is his first choice, explaining he is able to speak to the matter now that the province has made public what previously had been an in-camera conversation.
“We looked at the option of the additional bridge over the channel as a unique way to connect and, personally I think it’s the right thing to do…,” said Rysz. “It eliminates conflicts with people having to go out on the highway to come back into the community. I think it’s going to support development along Old Spallumcheen Road. I think it’s going to enhance local connectivity between the east and west sides of Sicamous with a cycling and pedestrian crossing and… It can support offline traffic while a new bridge is being built.
Rysz views Sicamous’ west side as playing a large role in future development – made possible with a Main Street bridge. He also emphasized the role a second bridge would play in improving public/traffic safety.
“We’re hoping to see some construction get started on this in 2017,” said Rysz. “I mean, the Bruhn Bridge is in tough shape, it needs to be replaced in one way or another.”
While anticipating a MOTI open house that’s supposed to occur sometime this fall, the mayor warns that ultimately the final decision will be in the hands of the B.C. government.
“I guess if the community feels strongly enough that they want option A, B or C, they’ll have to come out and voice their opinion on it,” said Rysz. “Although, let’s put it this way, you are dealing with the Ministry of Transportation… It’s no different from when they did the roundabout. They brought it all forward to the community and they discussed it and there were different designs and whatnot. But at the end of the day, they have a lot of power. They can do what they think is the right thing to do when it comes to correcting highway structure.”
The mayor commended the province and MOTI staff, noting they are looking at the most affordable and convenient ways to do the project while providing the most opportunity for the community.
“They seem to think the secondary bridge also is a good option, and, you know what, at least they gave the District of Sicamous that option,” said Rysz. “A secondary bridge, that’s a $65 million gift to the district if we decide to go that way.
“We’re not just about to jump the gun on this thing. We’re going to make sure we get it right.”