Council does about face on bridge closure
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
A group of Baker Street businesses have expressed displeasure with the City’s decision to completely close the bridge at the end of the city’s main street while it is being replaced.
In a meeting Thursday, Sept. 16, several businesses from the west end of Baker Street called city council on their quick decision to close the bridge to all traffic in order to speed up the construction process.
Council had decided Sept. 13 to completely close the bridge to traffic in order to save $50,000 off of the $550,000 cost of the project, and insure the project was finished and the bridge reopened by Oct. 31.
At the time, Mayor John Dooley warned council not to authorize the closure until they had given the business community proper notice of the closure and consulted with them on the impact such a move would have.
The impact was felt right away, something council learned last Thursday.
“All businesses reported an immediate impact on their business as a result of the full closure of the bridge,” said Coun. Robin Cherbo during the special meeting Monday night at City Hall.
“They also felt there was inadequate notice of the closure.”
It was deemed too difficult to make the left turn onto Highway 6 from Government Street, and created excessive traffic jams.
As a preferred option, the consensus from the Thursday meeting was to keep the temporary bridge open to one-way traffic coming out of the Railway Street area.
The motion passed Sept. 13 was re-opened and reconsidered by council, then subsequently defeated. Council admitted there had been inadequate notice of the closure and would still be able to realize cost savings with the one-way traffic bridge.
The new motion — that allowed for one-way temporary access across Cottonwood Creek — passed unanimously.
Coun. Deb Kozak asked if the project would be completed on time with the new motion.
“One of the reasons council passed the first motion was that council said, ‘Okay, it’s going to be a shorter time period.’ And some business owners said, ‘Close it and get it over with,’” she told council.
“And now some people are having second thoughts about that.”
City manager Kevin Cormack said the project is going well, but the contractor had estimated a large time saving by stopping traffic going through that area. However, there are some protective clauses in the contract for the City if the bridge does not open Oct. 31, he said.
“But (the contractor) is quite committed to meeting those timelines,” he said.
Although “flaggers” won’t be needed on the temporary bridge, there will still have to be some traffic management done, as well as some brief closures to allow movement of contractor’s equipment.
The bridge was close on Sept. 16-17 to allow City crews to remove the water main that went through the area. Cormack authorized the bridge to be opened to one-way traffic after the Thursday meeting and once City crews had completed their work.
The tender for the Baker Street Lanes Conversion Project was awarded to CGL Contracting Ltd. of Vernon Sept. 1.
The original tender for the bridge replacement project included maintaining a single lane access to lower Baker Street through a bypass bridge and using traffic control.
The 18-metre, one-lane bypass bridge is rated for off-highway traffic, capable of supporting even the heaviest emergency vehicles and fire trucks.
Night time closures are planned, with the site to be secured each evening after 8 p.m. and would not open until 7 a.m. the following morning.
Surface work is scheduled for late October, early November, with the completion being weather dependent. An asphalt cold mix would be used as a temporary surface if the weather becomes too cold.
The new structure is a concrete box culvert with an open floor, replacing the existing rotting wood structure. The sides of the structure tie into the existing concrete flume downstream of the bridge while the upstream side is a rectangular concrete opening protected with rip-rap.