A nearly $10 million construction project will give the venerable Cameron Street bridge in Prince George a new lease on life.
A nearly $10 million construction project will give the venerable Cameron Street Bridge in Prince George a new lease on life.
The single-lane, 183 metre long wooden bridge across the Nechako River was built in 1931. It will be transformed into a new two-lane structure with shoulders and a two metre wide sidewalk.
The new superstructure will be built on the existing concrete piers of the four span bridge.
IDL Construction Ltd. of Prince George is scheduled to complete the project by the end of 2008. Work will include the installation of a roundabout on the bridge’s north end, the first such traffic regulator in Prince George.
The total cost of the bridge project is budgeted at $9.9 million. The provincial and federal governments are each contributing $1 million through the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. The city of Prince George, which owns the bridge, will borrow $6 million for the project with the balance of funding to be drawn from city reserves.
By proceeding in this manner, the city is bypassing a possible grant of up to $2.5 million from the Asia-Pacific Corridor Initiative for the bridge project.
While there are no guarantees the money would be forthcoming, any decision was unlikely before at least mid-summer which could have delayed construction for another year.
City council is anxious to get going on the project. The Cameron Street Bridge is a key element in the shortest connector route between the north-south running Highway 97 and east-west Highway 16.
As it is, the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the fall of 2005, due to safety concerns and the escalating costs of maintaining the ageing structure.
The future of the Cameron Street Bridge has since been the subject of much heated council chamber debate. Engineering studies revealed the bridge’s concrete pilings remained sound and the decision to retain them and add a new superstructure was the preferred option to a total bridge replacement estimated to cost $22 million.
In 2005, the bridge was handling at least 8,000 vehicles a day – much of it heavy industrial traffic for which it was not designed.
It is predicted that traffic will increase to 14,000 vehicles a day when the renovation project is completed. Construction crews will be removing and retaining all or part of a span and timber work for heritage reasons.
Whatever length is decided will be relocated downstream on the Nechako at the Railway and Forestry Museum as permanent memorial to the Cameron Street Bridge’s historical significance.