Suburbanites in distant Silver Valley will have an easier commute within a year as the district moves to fill another gap in the transportation network by building a new bridge.
The $4.6-million project will cross the North Alouette River on 232nd Street, removing a major roadblock to future widening of the road to the new neighhourhoods in north Maple Ridge.
Exactly when the entire road from Fern Crescent to Silver Valley will go to four lanes depends on future traffic volumes and development along the street, which will pay for the road improvements, explained Maple Ridge engineer Dave Pollock.
Design work on the bridge is now underway, with final drawings ready by spring, after which it will be put to the tender process for contractor bids.
Pollock said the current wooden bridge is reaching the end of its life span. The new bridge will be concrete, expandable to four lanes, and similar to that which was recently built across the South Alouette River, and won’t have any piers in the river.
It will have a multi-use path on the east side so horses can cross, sparing them having to walk in the river and minimizing impact on fish.
Before any work begins though, the district wants to hear what the neighbours think.
Public meetings will take place next spring to get their ideas on the four- or five- month construction period. The new bridge should be ready about a year from now.
Pollock said the quickest and cheapest way to build the bridge is to shut down the road and divert traffic to other routes.
“It’s largely a function of time and cost.”
However, a pedestrian crossing could be maintained during construction.
Work likely will start in July during a slow time during the fisheries cycle.
The project will build on the expansion and widening of 232nd Street that’s taken place between 124th and 128th avenues, along with the new bridge over the South Alouette River, completed a few years ago.
Pollock said 232nd Street will have bike lanes on both sides, but pointed out current engineering practice is to design a road that fits local demands and suits a variety of needs, including cyclists and pedestrians. The steep slope of 232nd Street leading up to Silver Valley is also a factor.
One of the reasons for upgrading 232nd Street is to funnel commuter traffic on to an upgraded Abernethy Way as the main east-west route and divert motorists from 132nd Avenue, which residents have asked to be considered a tourism or recreation corridor.