Trail bridge plan left hanging after grant refused

The vision of a pedestrian crossing over the Columbia River, for now, remains a pipe dream.

The vision of a pedestrian crossing over the Columbia River, for now, remains a pipe dream.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Trail council announced that the city has been denied funding for a new pipe bridge, at the old Trail bridge location.

In March 2012, the City of Trail, supported by the East End Service (EES), submitted applications to the Canada-B.C. Gas Tax strategic priorities and innovations fund program.

The first application requested funds relating to the proposed Columbia River pedestrian/pipe bridge crossing project.

“The city will follow up with provincial authorities and express its concern and try to determine why this grant application was not supported,” said David Perehudoff, chief administrative officer and financial administrator for the city.

“There is obvious disappointment given the broad regional benefit that the bridge provides,” said Perehudoff.

However, Perehudoff said that the city hopes to proceed with a detailed design this year, and move forward with tender in early 2014.

At this time, the financing plan is still subject to council approval, and includes borrowing for the city’s share of the capital cost and using the annual gas tax payments to offset the debt payments, he explained.

“This way, there will be no direct property tax increase to proceed with the construction.”

Perehudoff said that the regional district would contribute its share directly, which is estimated to be $3 million of the $6.5 million dollar cost.

“The regional sewer line serves Trail, Rossland, Warfield and part of Area B,” he explained.

“The bridge would also allow a walking deck, and opportunity to add a second water crossing over the Columbia River.”

The idea of constructing a new pedestrian bridge/sewer pipeline across the Columbia River was first proposed to the RDKB and City of Trail, following a cost review summary in 2011.

“That discussion came about with the citizens when we were discussing what to do about the old Trail bridge,” said councillor Rick Georgetti.

“We knew we had to put a new sewer pipe to cross the river because the old bridge had been declared not safe, and might even collapse at some point in time.”

A pedestrian bridge over the line, would be visually pleasing and allow people to cross the river on foot or bicycle, he said.

The RDKB owns the Columbia Pollution Control Centre situated in East Trail.

The facility is a primary level sewage treatment plant that provides regional wastewater treatment and disposal for approximately 14,000 people residing in the municipalities of Trail, Rossland and Warfield, Oasis and Riverdale.

“The failure of the sewer line last year is very concerning and the city will work in partnership with the regional district to advance the bridge as high priority in 2013,” said Perehudoff.

“My real concern is in terms of priorities,” said councillor Robert Cacchioni.

“This is a core service, a necessary thing.”

“If the sewer line on the old bridge fails, we are talking millions of dollars in fines.”

The Gas Tax Fund provides funding for B.C. local governments and other eligible recipients for a variety of capital and planning projects. Project categories that are eligible for funding include: public transit; community energy; solid waste; water and wastewater; and sustainability planning.

The Gas Tax Fund denied a second application submitted by the city, related to a second access road to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital.