By David F. Rooney
There’s some good news about the Big Eddy Bridge… and some bad news. First the good news: the BC Ministry of Transportation says it can fix the 85-year-old structure for just $250,000. The bad news is that it will then only be good for 10 more years. After that, it’s toast.
But there’s more and that may be good or bad depending upon how you look at life: they can build a new bridge but it will cost more than $3 million to construct.
City Council got the low-down on the ailing structure, complete with a graphic PowerPoint presentation, from Art McClean, district operations manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Tuesday.
“She’s a tired old gal and she’s well past her life span,” he said of the seven-span structure that was built in 1924.”This bridge has served us well.”
He said consultants hired to examine the bridge and recommend ways to keep it going came up with two options. Option A would see replacement of some parts of the bridge at a total cost of about $250,000. Option B involved more repairs and more replacements at a cost of $1 million. However, neither option could inject more than about 10 more years of life into the bridge. There was a third choice that involved replacing one span, but that wouldn’t buy any more time for the steel structure.
McClean said that work could begin this coming spring with the repairs being completed by the autumn of 2010.
“There would be some closures involved,” he said, adding that the repairs would allow traffic of vehicles with total Gross Vehicular Weight of 10 tonnes to use the bridge. That would be an improvement over the current situation which prohibits vehicles with a GVW of more than five tonnes from using the bridge.
Mayor David Raven said “a fix is really critical for us” but people are not going to fool themselves into thinking the bridge will last forever.
“It would not be the ministry’s intention to continue using the bridge after 10 years,” he said.
As to the cost of building a new bridge, McClean told Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt “our ballpark is $3 million.”
McClean said he will be meeting with members of the Big Eddy Community Group later this week.