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Brunette crossing solution close
New Westminster’s engineering director thinks the city and Coquitlam can agree on “a preferred solution” to the Bailey bridge by early next week.
Earlier this month an arbitrator agreed with Coquitlam and ruled the Braid Street crossing of the Brunette River should be two lanes. New Westminster wanted it to remain one lane, believing two will increase traffic congestion.
When the ruling came down July 2, New Westminster had just started installing a one-lane bridge to replace the one closed in March because of structural issues. Work on that project was halted following the ruling.
The two cities are required to reach an implementation plan within 60 days of the arbitrator’s decision. Staff from both cities have been meeting the last two weeks. New Westminster director of engineering Jim Lowrie said the two sides could have a solution by early next week.
“We’re actually still doing some cost estimates, studying what is the most cost-effective way to implement [the plan]. I can’t say we’re in disagreement at this point,” said Lowrie. “Once we have that preferred plan we’ll proceed with that immediately.”
When the ruling was handed down, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said it could be a step toward a permanent crossing.
But Lowrie said that won’t be the case.
“Any solution we come up with would be temporary in nature.”
He added most of the replacement parts New West brought in remain at the site while some are in storage. The city acquired the replacement bridge after rejecting an offer from the province to supply a Bailey bridge, but only if Coquitlam was allowed to also install one to make it a two-lane crossing.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to use the materials that we brought in,” said Lowrie. “The financial implications is another point that is being discussed.”
City engineer Jim Lowrie
Once the replacement crossing opens, New West will monitor traffic to see if its fears are realized. If they are, the city will take whatever steps are necessary to mitigate them, said Lowrie.
One problem he anticipates is increased traffic will make access to Braid Street industrial area businesses limited and dangerous. Currently the north side has a gravel shoulder and is fairly open. He suggested more defined ways of getting in and out will make it safer and traffic more efficient.
“We do anticipate there will be long queues particularly westbound when there are trains,” said Lowrie. “My sense is the businesses are used to the long queues now, but as they become longer and more prevalent it may be something we need to address with safe access to the north side of Braid Street.”
Lowrie said one solution cities use is something colloquially called “penalty boxes.” An example is the no-stopping zones in front of fire stations. But in this instance it might not be practical. “You can’t put those every 50 feet,” said Lowrie.
He said the city might make Canfor and Braid a three-way stop intersection to help traffic get in and out of the Braid industrial area. Currently Braid traffic has the right of way there. And if that doesn’t work putting in a traffic light may be the next step which Lowrie said would cost $200,000 to install.