City gathers input on bridge replacement

Community Comment returns after its January break with a commentary by Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs. A politician from Fruitvale is on the rota for next week.

Community Comment returns after its January break with a commentary by Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs. A politician from Fruitvale is on the rota for next week.

How important is a second crossing of the Columbia River in Trail?

This question has brought many issues forward that concern Trail city council. Is another crossing worth the added tax burden? How willing are residents to commit to a 30-year loan payout? How important is it to have an emergency back-up to the Victoria Street Bridge?

Over the upcoming five months, the City of Trail will be examining replacement options for the Old Trail Bridge that permanently closed last October.

The city is interested in gathering public input on the value offered by a having two bridges. Council wants to hear resident opinions on:

1. The perceived need for another bridge.

2. The impact of this major capital expenditure on taxation.

3. The priority our community attaches to a second bridge relative to other civic initiatives.

Originally opened for use in 1911, Trail has been well served by the Old Bridge. With the construction of the new bridge in 1961, the region has benefited from two access points across the river.

The most recent statistics put daily vehicle traffic on the Old Bridge at 3,000 and the Victoria Street Bridge at 18,000.

Unfortunately, after 100 years, the Old Bridge has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer safe for traffic due to severe deterioration to the bridge piers.

At this time, city council is looking at two replacement options: a full replacement bridge or a pedestrian only bridge.

The full replacement option will be a two-lane roadway with shoulders and a steel or aluminum fenced sidewalk, equal in strength to a modern highway bridge. The RDKB interceptor sewer and a water line would be attached.

Two abutments and two river piers would form the foundation and the superstructure will consist of three steel girders and a concrete deck. The bridge deck will be sloped at a 4.9 per cent grade connecting East and West Trail at Riverside Avenue and Main Street.

Without including potential cost-sharing opportunities from government infrastructure grants, etc., the full replacement option is estimated at $20 million.

This translates to an annual increase in property tax of $97 for every $100,000 of assessment to be paid over 30 years. As an example, the average Trail residential assessment in 2010 was $185,000 which equates to $179 in added property tax.

In contrast, a pedestrian-only bridge is estimated at $6.5 million and would cost taxpayers an added $31 for every $100,000 of assessment over the 30-year term.

City planners have defined a suspension bridge for the pedestrian crossing that will also carry water and sewer lines. Two towers and concrete abutments will be installed on either side of the river with no need for mid-piers.

Reinforced concrete panels would form the two-meter-wide bridge deck, encased with aluminum side fencing. This construction is suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Similar to the full replacement option, this bridge would be sloped at a 4.9 per cent grade connecting East to West Trail.

Either option represents a long-term commitment, requiring significant expenditure by major industry, businesses and homeowners.

In the case of a full-replacement option, this project will demand the largest investment Trail has ever made. City council is committed to understanding the community’s interest for a second crossing and invites citizens to share their views.

Details on both options are available at www.trail.ca, including a short eight-question survey. The survey will also be contained in a community flyer to be sent to all home owners in February.

Bridge options will be on display at the Public Library, City Hall and the Waneta Plaza. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions and receive comments at two open house events scheduled April 4 and April 21 from 3-7 p.m. in council chambers.

A statistically valid survey in June will conclude the public consultation by gathering credible data from taxpayers on their interest in the options. City council will use the survey results in combination with all other input received to make a final decision on the replacement options.

Due to the magnitude of this project and the effects of this decision on our community, council urges residents to provide feedback. Your views are important and we encourage you to access one of the many avenues offered to share your perspectives.