Traffic delays expected during gas line move

FortisBC Gas rerouting line from old bridge to Victoria Street Bridge

Greater Trail residents can expect traffic delays on the Victoria Street Bridge by next Tuesday, as FortisBC Gas moves its gas line from the city’s “condemned” second crossing to the newer structure.

The move, which is expected to take about two weeks, will temporarily shut down one lane and pedestrian sidewalk on the new bridge, but will not have an impact on gas customers.

“It’s very standard, we do it throughout the province with our maintenance cycles so we won’t be requiring any special machinery or anything like that,” explained FortisBC spokesperson Ruth Sulentich.

However, rerouting the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s sewer line has proven to be far more challenging.

“With the gas guys, everything is all pressurized so they can just cap a main somewhere and they can reroute it without screwing anything up,” explained Bryan Teasdale of the RDKB.

“But as a sewer system, everything we have is gravity-fed so if we were to pressurize that system, then we would basically flood out all of downtown Trail with sewer. We just can’t cap a pipe somewhere and redirect it somewhere else, we have to do major infrastructure.”

The regional sewer committee is looking at three options: hanging the line off a potential new bridge; building a “pipe bridge,” which will

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suspend across the river without a bridge structure; or doing some directional drilling under the river.

“The cheapest option, obviously, is to put a new line on a new bridge but Trail is not going to build a new bridge so we’re kind of done with that option, I think,” said Teasdale. “The directional drilling would save a lot of grief every which way to Sunday but it’s very uncertain because if we start digging and hit something in our path, then we’d have to abandon that whole entire project.”

Depending on the selected option, the cost associated with rerouting the line fluctuates between$1 million to $5 million.

In the meantime, the regional district is developing an emergency response plan just in case the 100-year-old structure collapses.

“Some people say Trail is doing overkill on it (the Old Trail Bridge) and some people say it’s going to go really quick,” said Teasdale. “It’s tough to say, but we definitely have to do something in the next while.”

The city’s consulting engineers, Buckland and Taylor Bridge Engineering, are preparing a plan that will include an estimated cost for the eventual demolition.

The Old Trail Bridge was closed permanently in the fall when a routine inspection determined that the structure had deteriorated to a point where it was no longer safe for traffic.

The city decided not to replace the bridge after council considered feedback from a consultation process and the $20 million price tag ($41 million when all said and done) associated with the replacement was deemed far too expensive.