The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure held an open house in Golden last week, where they unveiled their latest plan for replacing the Kicking Horse Bridge along Highway 95 in town.
Staff from MOTI provided an overview of the Highway 95 Kicking Horse River Bridges 1 & 2 Project, and kicked off a period of public comment and engagement.
The new design would improve alignment of the road and flatten the curve that currently exists to enter the bridge, by linking the road from Kumsheen Park in the south to the current access point on the northern end of the river.
The design features a wider roadway, a separated multi-use pathway and new sidewalks and crossings and increase bridge height for climate resiliency.
Vehicle access will be maintained to Gould’s Island with the Kicking Horse River Bridge 2, which will remain in the same location.
The existing rotary trail will be maintained.
Planning and a preliminary engineering study were conducted in 2016 to evaluate options to address the Kicking Horse River Bridges 1 and 2 on Highway 95 in Golden.
However, according to project manager Tim Dyer, the original plan had to be scrapped after failing to acquire the land required from CP Rail.
The new updated plan doesn’t required the ministry of acquire any new land, making use of space already available.
However, the new design had to scrap the community events space, due to not being able to acquire the land, something Dyer says he knew people were excited for.
However, Dyer is still excited about the direction of this new design.
“The aesthetics of the design, I think it’s a much improved aesthetic structure over the previous design, which was a very deep steel girder,” said Dyer.
Part of the need for a new bridge, as outlined at the open house, is to help address the changing needs of the community. The low bridge clearance as often posed a problem in winter, with the bridges vulnerable to ice jams that can put the structure at risk.
As well, the bridges require significant rehabilitation or replacement.
MOTI has also undertaken a Gender Based Analysis+ Study since 2016, which Dyer explains is protocol and will help improve the design’s accessibility.
Part of the study involves reaching out to local organizations to view the project from their lens, on how to make the bridge safe and accessible to all.
MOTI has been developing this project with both the Shuswap Indian Band, and the Town of Golden.
“Hats off to the Town staff, who have been participating in this project since the beginning in 2015,” said Dyer.
“They’re absolutely wonderful people who’ve contributed so much knowledge to the project, they’ve been awesome to work with.”
The bridge, which was constructed in 1952, is nearing the end of its service life and offer an essential connection for residents to businesses, services and amenities in the area. They also provide a key regional link between Highway 1 and several communities along Highway 95 between Golden and Cranbrook, says MOTI.
The average daily traffic volumes are approximately 13,000 vehicles per day.
The next steps for the project include reviewing feedback from the open house and completing engineering and pursuing funding for construction over the course of 2022 and 2023.
Construction on the project will be coordinated with the Kicking Horse Canyon Project to help mitigate delays.
The online survey can be filled completed and the open house materials are available at: Gov.bc.ca/highway95goldenbridges