If Sicamous receives a Main Street bridge the municipality won’t be financially responsible for its upkeep.
This was one piece of new information available at a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure open house on the Bruhn Bridge replacement options held Thursday afternoon, Feb. 1 at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre.
“They committed to building the bridge, the cost and retaining ownership, which means they pay for all the maintenance and any future replacement costs,” commented Sicamous councillor and acting mayor Malcolm Makayev. “I mean, the bridge has a 75-year life span but you know, re-decking is a million-and-half in a 20 year period or whatever, that all stays on the ministry’s dime… A lot of people don’t realize that, and they were worried about how much that is going or increase our taxes. Well, nothing. Zero.”
John Schlosar, who had publicly expressed his concerns regarding the Main Street bridge option prior to the open house, was also relieved by the news that future related costs wouldn’t fall on the shoulders of fellow Sicamous residents. He said he was also pleased to see the design of the Main Street bridge would end where the current Main Street landing begins, and not carry on east through the Main Street/Riverside Avenue roundabout.
“I think because it’s not going to cost us anything, which is a really good thing, it comes down to what people in the community really want for the community,” said Schlosar. “And I really think democracy is important that way. I’m not sure how they will measure that. There’s not going to be a referendum or anything because there’s no capital costs going out here now. So I hope that people consider both of these properly and you know… I’m hoping council gets good, accurate, honest feedback from people in the community so that they can evaluate that and hopefully have a reasonable stance to take on behalf of the community.”
About 186 people stopped by the rec centre to talk to ministry staff and learn what new information was available on the proposed replacement options: a five-lane bridge or a four-lane bridge with a second bridge over the channel at the west end of Main Street.
Jennifer Fraser, project manager for MOTI, said ministry staff had spent the last year and a bit developing a preliminary design for both bridge options, providing a clearer picture of what they will look like when constructed. A project timeline was also developed, with studies, engagement and design refinement continuing for another two years.
“Once a design option is chosen, the whole next two phases of design, where we can get to a point where we’re ready to tender, is at least a two-year process,” said Fraser. “And the actual construction is a two-to-three year process.”
Other new details revealed at the meeting included an additional option for the four-lane bridge design. One includes a new intersection along Highway 1 for Old Sicamous Road. A second eliminates the Old Sicamous Road intersection in favour of a road that would run from Old Spallumcheen Road, beneath the new Bruhn Bridge and up to Old Sicamous Road.
Fraser said both proposed replacements, the four-lane/Main Street bridge options and the five-lane bridge option, are estimated to cost $215 million. She said which option the ministry decides to go with will depend on a number of factors.
“Coming to a conclusion on the preferred option involves looking at technical, financial and community input,” said Fraser, describing the general process. “When we say community input, we mean not just residential – we really want to get that broad cross-section of what do the businesses think, what do the residents think, what do the elected officials think, what does Splatsin think, and use all of those… pieces, and weigh the pros and cons of those in order to understand what is the option that comes out on top.”
A public feedback form is available on the ministry’s website. The forms must be filled out and submitted by Feb. 18.