The Kispiox Valley Road bridge is currently closed until further notice.
On Feb. 4, at approximately 8:00 a.m. the bridge was seriously damaged by a snowplow.
The bridge was immediately closed to all traffic for assessment of the damage. Since then, it has been opened for foot traffic only.
“An initial assessment shows that there is structural damage to the Kispiox Bridge following an MVI this morning,” wrote Dawson Road Maintenance (DRM) in a notice on Facebook. “We are currently waiting for Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s engineers to arrive on scene to further assess the damage. DRM is partnering with MoTI and the Forests Ministry to consider the use of a suitable alternate route as a detour.”
No detour is currently available creating a good deal of inconvenience and possibly danger for residents of the Kispiox Valley who work, shop and access services, including medical services, in the Hazeltons and beyond.
Meanwhile, emergency provisions have been put in place.
“BC Ambulance is ready in terms of any medical emergency and will dispatch the helicopter with medical team , if someone calls 911,” said the Kispiox Band council in a notice to the community. “The landing point is the Kispiox village ball field and it is ready for accepting a helicopter. A dedicated vehicle will transport the medical team to the house with the patient.”
Dawson confirmed this morning they have begun clearing the one possible detour, a logging road known as “the mitten.” It could take up to a week.
Not everyone is happy about that solution.
Shannon McPhail, who lives on the Hazelton side of the bridge, but has family on the other side, said the road is not really a viable option.
The 42-km, single lane, dirt road is only marginally passable in the summer, much less the winter, she said, and will require a pilot car for safety to escort motorists one way at a time.
“Which means you could be waiting one to two hours before you can use it,” McPhail said. “Its 58 km up the Kispiox, the 42 km over the mitten to Hwy 37 and 70 km from there to Kitwanga and 65 km to Hazelton. That’s a 233 km detour one way. Half that distance is logging roads or dirt roads.”
She suggested the sensible thing to do would be to put in a temporary bridge.
In another case, The Interior News has been told, a deceased Kispiox Village elder’s body, which was supposed to be transported home today, will now be carried across the bridge on foot.