TAYLOR, B.C. – The Taylor Bridge requires an overhaul as regular maintenance costs are rising fast to keep traffic moving over the Peace River.

The two-lane bridge, constructed in 1960, is one of only three crossings to get over the Peace River. According to Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser, the economies of the north depend on that bridge.

“The cost-benefit on the maintenance of [the bridge] is probably the biggest driver for the province right now,” says Fraser. “They’ve told us that the substructure of the bridge is fine; the bulk of the maintenance is being done on the surface of the bridge.”

When the bridge was constructed over 50 years ago, it would have been impossible to predict the number of heavy loads and the size of those loads as the region entered a development boom.

According to a post on the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association website, recent inspections of the bridge have been given an “urgency” rating of four out of five. A rating of five is given when a bridge is a danger to life and limb, and a rating of four means there are dire economic issues that would arise should the bridge be closed.

Fraser says there has always been a maintenance plan for keeping the bridge in working condition, but they have shifted from regular maintenance to emergency maintenance.

“It has gone from one or two times a year that you’d see the Ministry contractors out there to monthly.”

While Fraser didn’t have the exact numbers, he says it’s in the millions that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is spending on spot-treatments to the bridge.

In May 2019, officials with the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced they were evaluating three options for the bridge:

Fraser says a four-lane bridge would be the best option because it allows for one or two lanes to be shut down while traffic could still flow over the river.

“Any delays they have in that valley cause huge backups in traffic because of the volume coming across. So you go to four lanes, and you always have the ability to close two lanes and do the maintenance, and have the other two lanes open.”

Fraser hopes the province will see the value of investing in the bridge. He says the cost of this project is a drop in the bucket compared to other projects being examined.

“That project is looking at $5 or $6 billion. If I had the PST and GST that’s going into the Massey Tunnel project, I could take care of [the Taylor Bridge] up here.”

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association has a petition for residents to sign addressed to Premier Horgan, Finance Minister Selina Robinson, and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming asking for action on the bridge.

Fraser says the next step is to do public consultation. He hopes to see the Ministry in the community talking about designs in the near future.