Being one of the first Skywalkers under a crisp blue sky was nothing short of exhilarating for Trail Mayor Mike Martin early Tuesday morning – especially after meeting upon meeting at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) in Victoria last week.
“I actually got to walk about one third of the way across the bridge on the new decking this morning,” Martin told the Trail Times. “I was just awestruck now that the handrails are going up and decking is on, it is quite unbelievable. It’s going to be spectacular, that’s all I can say.”
But there still is somewhat of an albatross for the city to deal with – the Old Trail Bridge.
The ageing landmark has to come down after six years of being blocked to vehicles and pedestrians, much to the chagrin of many. Besides the loss of a historical feature, the matter is problematic for the city in terms of cost, demolition is currently estimated at $4.5 million.
The problem is that no one, including the province and federal government, is eager to pay for something that is coming down. In other words, there won’t be anything tangible to attach to such a hefty price tag.
The city maintains that the province (owner of the bridge until 1961) should contribute to the demolition – so Martin and Trail representatives again brought the issue to the ministry’s attention during the UBCM.
“We had a very good meeting with Minister Stone (Todd Stone, B.C.’s transport minister) and three of his staff,” Martin said. “We now have a firm estimate for demolition from Graham Infrastructure, so we again went back to talk to the province about participation in the demolition, and the fact that they did own the bridge.”
Martin says the city remains hopeful after being well received and encouraged by the direction of the conversation.
“Certainly there were no promises, but the ministry is putting their mind to seeing what can be done, so we came away reasonably optimistic,” he added. “But it’s a large chunk of money and they also indicated they are faced with many other bridges that they need to deal with, so we are on a long list.”
The Trail Times asked Martin if funding a project like the Old Trail Bridge teardown was in fact, precedent setting.
“I think it is and that’s part of the point we raised with them,” he said. “And the fact this is a highly prominent river the bridge is crossing – it is an international waterway and the last thing we need to have happen both from the city perspective, the provincial and the federal government perspective, is to see something happen to the bridge that is out of our control, so we really emphasized that point as well.