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Build a new Craigflower Bridge in six months or 18?

Dec 06 2011
Three visions for the Craigflower Bridge: a three-span concrete box beam design, top, a four-span steel arch design and a five-span curved bowstring design.  

Three visions for the Craigflower Bridge: a three-span concrete box beam design, top, a four-span steel arch design and a five-span curved bowstring design.

Photograph by: Herold Engineering, .

The Craigflower Bridge, at 78 years old, is showing its age. An open house Wednesday will give the public a peek at three possible replacements.

"We're looking for feedback," Saanich transportation manager Jim Hemstock said Monday. That includes comments on how the bridge should look and whether it should be built in six months or 18.

Planners are happy with all three bridge options, said Hemstock. "We'd build any of them," he said. "We're looking for what's important to people, what they like about them, what they don't like about them."

The replacement is part of the Admirals Road Corridor Improvement Project and will be funded with a $10-million grant from federal gas taxes.

The current two-lane bridge, owned by Saanich and View Royal, lacks bike lanes and its sidewalks are less than a metre wide. The deck is worn, the support beams cracking and hand rails bulging. The structure is beyond repair and falls short of modern demands, said Hemstock.

"When it was built back in the 1930s, trucks were about 20 tonnes and now trucks are about 40 tonnes," he said.

"If we were to keep it, we'd have to put load restrictions on it and all the trucks would have to go someplace else."

Almost 18,000 vehicles, including 1,500 trucks, pass over the bridge each day.

While there has been no count of pedestrians, it's clear there are many. In spring, it is a popular spot for herring fishermen, who line the narrow sidewalks. Moms pushing strollers are another common sight as they use the bridge to reach a nearby playground.

The new bridge would have three lanes for car traffic, wider sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. Barriers would separate vehicle traffic from cyclists and pedestrians.

Keeping the bridge in use during construction would be more expensive and time-consuming than closing it, Hemstock said. A six-month closing would allow the old bridge to be torn down and the new one erected. Keeping the old bridge in use during construction would lengthen construction to 18 months. "So far, we haven't talked to anyone who wants to do 18 months," said Hemstock.

The bridge is an important commuter link for people working at CFB Esquimalt and living in View Royal and Saanich.

It's also used by kayakers, who squeeze between the pilings to explore Portage Inlet.

Another open house will take place in the new year to canvass thoughts on a detailed design. Permits and approvals will be sought from February to April, with construction to start on June 1.

Anyone who wishes to comment by email can write to admiralsroad@saanich.ca.

The open house is on Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the View Royal Town Hall, 45 View Royal Avenue.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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