In less than a year travellers driving west of Golden will have a brand new bridge to drive on.
The Donald Bridge Construction Project, a $63-million undertaking by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, is halfway to its projected two year completion date.
“We’ve been here for, pretty much exactly a year now, and things have been going pretty well,” said Mark Graydon, an engineer hired by the ministry to oversee the project.
“The area’s changed quite a bit since we first came here. It actually looks like there’s something happening out there now.”
Much of the first year was spent building foundations, which were difficult to see. So a lot of people didn’t really know there was anything happening out there, said Graydon.
This project is a small piece of the Kamloops to Golden Project, an upgrading of the Trans-Canada Highway 1 that would see four lanes all the way from Kamloops to Golden.
“The ministry has a four-laning program between the Alberta boundary and Kamloops, and this fits into that as well,” said Graydon. “So basically what’s happening is that after 60 years, these bridges require either replacement or maintenance work. Due to the location of this bridge, and the fact that the geometry didn’t really work, it was decided that it would be replaced.”
The bridge is being changed to four lanes, and the entrance to the bridge on the west side will have a gentler curve.
“There’s been a lot of accidents here because if you’re coming from the west and driving down Donald Hill, it’s a big hill and at the bottom there’s this sharp corner onto a bridge. And bridges are notorious for being icy, and trucks are notorious for not wanting to slow down. You get this nice combination, and sometimes they end up in the river,” said Graydon.
“This structure is going to provide something that is a lot safer, and won’t require any serious work for a long time, 60 years or so.”
Flatiron Constructors of Canada is the prime contractor on the project, and have hired many local workers. There may be anywhere from 30 to 50 people working on site at a given time, and possibly even more than that in the summer.
“In the winter we can’t be doing very much earth work, so right now we just have bridge crews on site working with concrete and steel. Whereas in the summer we’ll have bridge crews and grading crews, and paving crews on site, so lots of activity,” said Graydon.
“Once that’s all done there will landscapers coming in to do tree planting, and seeding and stuff like that.”
It was about five years ago that the early stages of this project were getting under way, people were on site drilling to see what kind of ground conditions there were, and with that data started analyzing coming up with conceptual designs. And one year from now it will be finished.
“Next year this time we should be gone. It’s a two year job. By December of this year we’re going to be fully completed and out of here, and the old bridge will be demolished. And we’ll all be travelling on a nice new road,” said Graydon.