The latest design for a new bridge across the South Alouette River at 240th Street, is a shorter, lower and cheaper version than previous proposals.
And if it’s possible to extend Abernethy Way from 232nd to 240th street, it could result in a second access to Golden Ears Provincial Park.
But it’s going to be a decade, or maybe just half, before any second crossing is built at 240th Street because senior government money is needed for the project which now is estimated to cost $32 million.
“The bridge is significantly lower and less intrusive,” transportation manager Purvez Irani told council at its Feb. 12 meeting.
“This second crossing into Silver Valley will be required,” given projected growth in traffic volumes, he said, adding that the bridge is part of the city’s transportation strategy.
Coun. Gordy Robson said the intent is to ask TransLink to switch its the major road network designation from 232nd to 240th street. That would qualify the bridge for TransLink funding.
“That will become the road to Golden Ears Provincial Park,” Robson added.
He said the city wants to get the bridge shovel ready so that once funding is available, the project can proceed, adding it’s not a 30-year project but one that could be done in five or 10 years.
“The alternative is to straighten Fern Crescent and that’s not in the cards,” Robson said.
He credited Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy for having the South Alouette River no longer considered under the Navigable Waters Act, and thus allowing a reduction in the height of the bridge.
“He brought it within our reach,” said Robson.
Public works manager Frank Quinn said that a significant part of Maple Ridge’s share of the cost of a new bridge will come from development cost charges the city levies in order to fund infrastructure.
Its proximity to Golden Ears Provincial Park would bolster a case for provincial help.
“So we’d certainly be looking to the province to provide some financial assistance,” Quinn said.
He said if a road is built it does give an alternative access to the park. “There’s been no decision on whether it would be the main route. But that would be something that would come up during the course of discussion,” Quinn said.
He said the city had considered creating a short secondary road north of Fern Crescent to funnel traffic farther eastward but there are no plans to straighten out Fern Crescent.
A 2008 study looked at two more expensive concepts, one, a higher elevation bridge would have been comparable in height to the Golden Ears Way overpass at 200th Street and Lougheed Highway.
A second design would have been the same height as the current 232nd Street bridge and would be 440 metres long and cost $47 million.
“There’s no definitive timeline on it at this point in time,” Quinn said.
Neither has there been any decision as to whether the bridge will be two or four lanes.
“We’ve always planned for a bridge here. This is a heck of a lot less invasive than the original bridge that was going to be going through this corridor,” said Mayor Michael Morden.
“We’ve come under fire a few times, because we’re a younger, developing community, that we end up stranding certain communities, especially when we’ve got downed power poles. We saw that at 232nd Street this last weekend, ” Morden said.
That road was closed for three days as crews removed trees and downed power poles after the Feb. 8 and 9 windstorms.
Bridge costs and concepts, however, are only rough estimates. More details about the project will be available this spring as the city works on its plan for extending Abernethy Way eastward from 232nd Street to in order to coordinate the two projects.
City engineer Dave Pollock said the approach ramps for the bridge would stretch from the north side of the river to Fern Crescent and 128th Avenue. A road allowance currently allows for that.
Staff will come back with more details about both projects sometime this spring. Maple Ridge, in 2017, approved a $200,000 study to try to find a route for extending Abernethy Way all the way to the industrial area at 256th Street.