Coquitlam wants a bridge
Coquitlam council would like to see a four-lane crossing replace the current Braid Street Bailey bridge to New Westminster but, in the meantime, will likely have to settle for something smaller.
On Monday, councillors voted in favour of a report that would see the city’s engineers engage their Royal City counterparts to coordinate the replacement of the single-lane structure.
The bridge has been closed to heavy commercial vehicles since an assessment last month found a crack in one of the wooden supports. Initially, the bridge was closed but has since reopened to all but heavy truck traffic after repairs were completed.
“This has become an urgent matter for Coquitlam and New Westminster,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said Monday. “It is an urgent need at this point because there is so much industrial land on the Coquitlam side that remains under-utilized until we can solve this bottleneck.”
The single-lane Bailey bridge was built in 1995 as a temporary connection between the two cities and Bill Susak, Coquitlam’s manager of engineering, said close to 10,000 cross it every day.
So far, New West-minster has been reluctant to move forward with any proposal that would increase the flow of traffic to the foot of Braid Street, an area that is already snarled by a rail crossing and traffic flows coming from the Brunette overpass.
Jim Lowrie, New West’s engineering manager, was unable to comment by The Tri-City News’ deadline but told The New West NewsLeader last month that a multi-lane replacement of the current Bailey bridge would be problematic for his city.
“I don’t think that would be in our interest at this time,” Lowrie said.
“The traffic would be basically, in a day, be jammed at Braid Street and Brunette. With the multi-railway tracks there, [the intersection] simply would not be able to handle the traffic that a multi-lane bridge would bring.”
In the meantime, Coquitlam is pushing for a two-lane temporary bridge that would cost $3.4 million. Because the two cities split all costs related to the inter-municipal roadway, Coquitlam would be on the hook for $1.7 million.
Susak told Coquitlam council he believes an agreement over a temporary, two-lane bridge can be worked out and that tensions between the two cities regarding the project have cooled in recent years. He also noted that there are dispute resolution processes if a permanent solution cannot be found for replacing the bridge.
Coun. Brent As-mundson said it is important for both cities to work together on improving the crossing.
“New West has to realize that they have to be a part of that solution and work for the benefit of the region,” said Asmundson.
“I am looking forward to the city of New West and the city of Coquitlam getting a resolution to this quickly.”