No clear timeline for Taylor Bridge solution

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says it’s working on a long-term solution for the Taylor Bridge, but it has no clear timeline in sight.

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The Taylor Bridge that goes over the Peace River.
Taylor Bridge ( Jordan Prentice, )

TAYLOR, B.C. — The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says it’s working on a long-term solution for the Taylor Bridge, but it has no clear timeline in sight.

Planning for the project is expected to continue through 2023 and will include field investigations, consultation, and technical and financial assessments.

According to the ministry, a completed summary report of the phase 2 engagement findings is also expected later this year.

At a recent budget debate with the MOTI, Peace River North MLA Dan Davies said when he was elected in 2017, he got a report about the bridge.

“The gist of the report was basically saying that the bridge was at its end of life in 2017. We know that the deck is failing. There’s more welding rod in that metal deck than there is original steel,” Davies said.

Davies added every time he goes out in the community, he receives complaints from residents saying the bridge needs to be replaced, but a replacement is not in the 10-year capital budget.

A common complaint from residents is that if the bridge were located in a more populated area, such as Vancouver, it would have been upgraded already.

For example, construction on a replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, a connection between Surrey and New Westminster, began in 2020. The ministry says the bridge, which originally opened in 1937, has safety concerns and does not meet modern standards.

The project was originally a TransLink project, with consultation beginning in 2013, according to the ministry, and further consultation in 2016. The province took over the delivery of the project in 2018 and will own the bridge once it is completed.

In response to Davies during the budget debate, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, said he empathizes with the concern of Davies and his constituents. However, he cannot give a timeline due to the amount of work and information gathering that still needs to be completed.

Though two other bridges cross the Peace River, some residents don’t believe the alternatives are viable options to Taylor Bridge.

Wayne Sawchuk, a Peace region resident, says the Clayhurst Bridge, approximately an hour detour east, can handle truck traffic, but the roads that approach the bridge on either side are unstable.

The The Peace River Clayhurst Bridge.
The Peace River Clayhurst Bridge. ( Jordan Prentice, )

“The hills, they’re constantly sliding because of the weak sediments supporting the road base,” Sawchuk said.

“So both sides of this particular bridge are not good for highway traffic, let’s put it that way. It wouldn’t work in the long run.”

He says a new or upgraded bridge is needed, but he’s unsure of the details due to the shifting soil on either side of the Peace River.

The MOTI says the area is complex, adding that geotechnical, hydro-technical, and archaeological investigations are underway and will inform the long-term solution.

“The ministry plans and prioritizes highway and infrastructure projects based on comprehensive data and provincial needs,” said MOTI in a statement.

“We are aware of the importance of the bridge to northeastern B.C. and the province, and we are committed to developing a long-term solution that is safe and reliable.”

The ministry says the public’s safety is the top priority, and the entity maintains all highway infrastructure, including inspections and a maintenance program for the Taylor Bridge.

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