Preloading work for the new Salmon River Bridge is complete and with the tender now issued, the B.C. government expects construction will begin in the fall. (File photo)

Salmon Arm West bridge construction expected to begin in fall 2020

Budget for Highway 1 project up $20 million over intial 2016 estimate

Work on the next phase of the Salmon Arm West project, including the replacement of the Salmon River Bridge, is expected to begin this fall.

On Thursday morning, June 4, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) announced tender had been issued for the 1st Avenue SW to 10th Avenue SW four-laning project along Highway 1. The main work in this phase of the project, includes construction of a new Salmon River Bridge, 2.2 kilometres of Highway 1 widening with concrete median barrier, construction of an interchange with frontage road connections, construction of frontage roads to consolidate access to and from Highway 1, and a multi-use pathway for pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorized users.

The pre-loading work for this phase was completed last year and the ministry explained in a June 3 media release that once the contract is awarded through an open bidding process, work is expected to begin in fall 2020.

“The City of Salmon Arm is pleased to see the TCH Salmon Arm West project move forward,” City of Salmon Arm deputy mayor Kevin Flynn commented in the release. “These improvements will provide increased safety and mobility as well as upgraded access for adjacent businesses.

“This project will also result in the much anticipated new bridge over the Salmon River. This project will greatly benefit Salmon Arm and the many individuals that travel the highway.”

The release noted the project is being delivered under the province’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), “which prioritizes hiring local workers, including Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities and other under-represented groups who are qualified to do the work, in a safe, welcoming work environment.”

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo has expressed concern with the province’s CBA approach giving preferential treatment to unionized companies for publicly funded infrastructure projects, noting this can result in limited interest from prospective bidders and increased costs. He also suggested delays would add to the project’s cost.

As of the June 4 MOTI release, the total budget for the Salmon Arm West four-laning project was $184.7 million. This included up to $31.4 million in federal funding.

The project was initially estimated to cost $162.7 million.

The ministry release explained original estimates for the project were completed in 2016 with limited engagement and engineering, and reflected an early level of understanding about the project.

“Since original estimates, significant consultation with the Pespesellkwe of the Secwepemc Nation and the City of Salmon Arm has been completed, along with detailed engineering investigations,” reads the release. “Due to these factors, along with increasing costs of labour and a competitive construction market, the budget for the Salmon Arm West four-laning project has been increased to $184.7 million.”

Read more: Tender for construction of Salmon River Bridge to be issued in coming months

Read more: Preloading for Salmon Arm West project to begin early 2019

Read more: Salmon Arm won’t lose a bridge during four-laning project

The ministry provided the following additional information illustrating the need for the project:

• This is a higher volume section of Highway 1. It carries approximately 15,500 vehicles per day on average, with peak daily volumes exceeding 21,000.

• Approximately 11 per cent of the average daily traffic are heavy trucks and commercial carriers moving between communities, the Lower Mainland and other provinces.

• The Salmon River Bridge and existing intersection locations are problematic for safety. Between 2009 and 2018, there were 87 collisions including one fatality, 56 injuries and 49 incidents with property damage only.

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