New West gets own Bailey bridge

Michael Olshaski Sr. and Jr., 23 months, check out the Braid Street Bailey bridge and the Brunette River on their Cruzin
Michael Olshaski Sr. and Jr., 23 months, check out the Braid Street Bailey bridge and the Brunette River on their Cruzin' Cooler while they can. The bridge has been shut down to vehicle traffic due to structural issues. A replacement is to be installed this month.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

New Westminster has found its own Bailey bridge to replace the one crossing the Brunette River shut down in February.

The city announced Friday it is expected to have a one-lane replacement bridge to connect the Braid industrial area with United Boulevard in Coquitlam open by the end of June.

City engineer Jim Lowrie said New Westminster has been working with the Ontario-based manufacturer to find a replacement bridge. Some components are being shipped from back east but others have been found locally, said Lowrie.

The replacement and its installation will cost New Westminster $175,000, said Lowrie. That's $100,000 more than the city expected to pay.

New Westminster had counted on the province providing a bridge for free. But the city would still have paid $75,000 to install it and relocate a gas main and a water main.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone wrote a letter to Mayor Wayne Wright May 8 saying the city could have a bridge. But he made the offer conditional. New West could have one only if the city was willing to allow a second one-lane temporary bridge installed beside it. That was something New Westminster was unwilling to do.

"Our understanding was the minister's offer was a final offer. We had asked for it to be reconsidered in light of the arbitration proceeding but as now we have yet to receive a response," said Lowrie.

An arbitrator is due to make a binding ruling on the dispute between the two cities in July. Coquitlam has constantly called for the crossing to be two lanes because it would benefit the movement of goods and emergency vehicles.

But New West has resisted. Its council has steadfastly maintained doubling lane capacity would increase congestion at the crowded Braid Street and Brunette Avenue intersection.

The nearly 20-year-old bridge was closed in February when a scheduled structural assessment determined it was too weak and couldn't be fixed.

Lowrie is hopeful the crossing will be open within two to three weeks. He said once it arrives it will take less than a week to install it.

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