(Front to back) Margaret Browne

(Front to back) Margaret Browne

Drilling for new bridge begins this week; nearby residents prepare for noise and vibration

Next stage of building the new walking bridge involves heavy drilling to stabilize the anchoring system and towers.

Neighbourhoods in East Trail and south of downtown are about to have a little more shaking going on.

As work progresses on the new walking bridge, the next stage calls for heavy drilling to stabilize the structure’s anchoring system and two towers.

The massive drilling rig arrived in pieces by semi and assembled at the Rotary Park site over the weekend.

Drilling eight to 12 metres into bedrock for the south tower’s six pilings will begin this week. Operations to complete 24 pilings in total, is expected to last up to 12 weeks, and includes 10 pilings on the west side, two on the abutment and four pilings for each of the two wind cable anchors.

Once work wraps up on the west side of the river, the rig will be moved to East Trail near the McQuarrie Street and Columbia Avenue intersection. Another eight pilings will secure the north tower as well as four anchors and the east side abutment.

Previous geotechnical studies found deep soil on that side of the water, so crews will be drilling up to 30 metres to stabilize the pilings. That will mean noise and most likely ongoing vibrations for those living in the proximity.

But seniors at Chateau Manor (1717 Columbia Ave.) are taking it in stride and gearing up for the inevitable.

“It’s been noisy,” says Angela Fabbro. “And we know it’s going to (keep) being noisy, but there’s always something to look at out the window.”

Margaret Browne used work as a public health nurse across the street from Chateau Manor – when the building, now apartments, housed Trail public health.

She recalls walking the loop around town on her lunch break, and looks forward to having that opportunity again.

“I walked the bridges everyday in 20 minutes,” said Browne. “Of course I was much younger then, but it will be nice to walk by the river on that side (Riverside Avenue) again.”

Pipe piling and anchor drilling operations are slated until Feb. 25, with work taking place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Much thought was, and still is, going into construction of the bridge, says City Engineering Technician Warren Proulx.

That means, as the job progressed, so did aspects of the design.

The crossing was first planned to be nine feet across, but has since been expanded to 12 feet in width.

The structure will house service lines, including sewer and water, so extra feet is a utilitarian feature to support industrial pipes.

On top of that, the bridge is designed to be mostly static, meaning no swaying regardless the weather or weight it carries at any one time. Following an in-depth wind study that reviewed historical weather and recreated conditions with a small scale model, the additional three feet were factored into the design, Proulx clarified.

Once the drilling and piling phase is complete, the actual bridge construction will make an interesting visual for passersby, said Proulx. That stage will be completed 200 feet above the site, not from the water.

A four-man steelworker crew will be suspended in a cage-like structure and building across the Columbia River incrementally.

The project is slated for completion by September 2016.

While Chateau Manor residents prepare for what’s coming with nary a complaint, there is one senior who has a request for the city.

“Years ago I used to watch my grandson play at Butler Park,” says Alice Westbury, 96.

“I’ve always loved to see the grass and flowers growing. So I only ask that when this is all done, I can walk across (viewpoint benches across from the facility) and see everything growing again.”