Trail’s Old Bridge was a 50/50 operation between the city and the province until it was taken out-of-service several years ago, according to the city’s mayor.
But with the latter refusing to buck up half the estimated $5 million cost to tear the century-old crossing down, this week Trail council committed to taking a more assertive approach with the government to get the job done.
“This was a major topic of discussion with Katrine (Conroy, NDP MLA) at our last meeting,” explained Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs during Monday’s council meeting. “We focused particularly on the Old Bridge and what we need to do to remove it in terms of the government picking up their fair share of the cost.”
The city has met with the province on several occasions seeking financial assistance to decommission the 100-year old structure, but to date, no action has been taken.
“In the past, we’ve met with a municipal affair minister and other bureaucrats,” he said. “But they have only offered to make their engineering expertise available at no cost.”
Bogs said the city needs more than that.
There is no legal mandate to take the bridge down unless there is an incident such as structural movement detected.
“We want to make sure that we lay the foundation to get rid of the bridge before that occurs,” Bogs added Wednesday. “Since the province operated it for the first 50 years, until 1961, they should be an equal partner in getting rid of it.”
Removing the Old Bridge is a separate matter from constructing the new pedestrian bridge, which is set to break ground this summer.
The projects can have different timing and without a law in B.C. at this time to take a bridge out of commission, there is no direct connection between the two.
However, the two crossings do serve a purpose in addition to a pathway across the Columbia River.
The region’s aging sewer line currently hangs from the old structure and could wreak more havoc to the city than a crumbling bridge.
“The biggest liability facing us right now is the sewer line,” said Bogs. “That is why we want if off as soon as possible because there will be a hefty environmental penalty if the line breaks and spills sewage into the river.”
The pedestrian crossing will house a new regional sewer main, second waterline and fibre optic conduit, and will have the capacity to carry an additional utility line.