Two options have been presented for the new Kicking Horse River Bridges

Two options presented for Kicking Horse River Bridges replacement

The Ministry of Transportation was in Golden last week to discuss plans to replace the Highway 95 bridges that cross the Kicking Horse.

Keri Sculland

Special to the Golden Star

A bridge replacement plan is in the works for the river crossing on Highway 95 in Golden.

The plan involves two options, which would have the bridge cross east of where the current bridges stand.The first option involves purchasing the CP Rail land the farmer’s market currently takes place on, straightening out the road to lead up to the new bridge. The second plan keeps 10th Ave. where it is now, keeping the bend in the road in between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Currently, there are two bridges connecting the north side of town to the south, across the Kicking Horse River. They both touch down on the island in the middle (Gould’s Island), which would receive its own roadway to connect with the surrounding streets.

“The biggest change is the alignments to the north side,” explained project manager Tim Dyer.

The current bridges in its location are nearing the end of their lifecycle, and has been cause for concern in the past due to large trucks, awkward corners and ice build up in the winter.

“They will be safe until we replace them,” Dyer assured. “It was designed to the standard of its day.”

The bridges are founded on old untreated wood piles that need replacing, and many metal components on both bridges also require significant rehabilitation or replacement.

As well, the abutments on both bridges have moved around and rotated over the years, and rehabilitating them or replacing them is extremely difficult. The bridge would also need to be raised to prevent future ice jams like the one Golden experienced two winters ago.

In the event that the bridges needed to be closed for emergency repairs, the only detour route available to connect both sides of town would be south, through Radium.

The changes in option one would mean the Chamber of Commerce building would need to be relocated to a different spot, and what is currently 10th Ave. could be converted into something else at the town’s discretion, Dyer said.

The ministry has met with local governments and has engaged First Nations and other stakeholders such as CP Rail in this process.

The new bridges would also include a multi-use lane, Dyer said, which would be specifically for bicycle and other traffic.

Though the project is not funded yet, Dyer hopes the planning stage will be completed by the end of the year, and preliminary design can begin in the new year.

“There’s a lot of steps to go. What we want today is to gain input,” Dyer said last Wednesday at an open house presented by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The ministry is in discussions with CP Rail currently, and if given approval, the project would take two full seasons to construct. During this time, the old bridge would remain open, and Dyer says there would be very minimal traffic delays. The largest delay would probably be when construction switches the roads over to the new bridge, he said.

The full presentation is available online at www.gov.bc.ca/highway95goldenbridges. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is accepting feedback until October 21, and can be submitted by filling out the feedback form online or by sending an e-mail to Hwy95goldenbridges@gov.bc.ca.