The historic Howe Truss bridge crossing the Bulkley River near Quick will be replaced in the new year according to the province. (Deb Meissner photo)

The historic Howe Truss bridge crossing the Bulkley River near Quick will be replaced in the new year according to the province. (Deb Meissner photo)

Province to replace historic Quick Bridge

Quick residents prefer repair of existing bridge as faster and more cost-effective

The historic bridge linking Quick with Hwy 16 on the other side of the Bulkley River will be replaced.

Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine confirmed last week the project will proceed.

“The project team is now working on purchasing the new bridge and completing tender documents for the removal of the existing and launch the new structure,” he said.

No completion date has been set, but Cullen believes it will likely be spring of next year.

The current bridge was closed to all traffic on June 17 by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) following a routine inspection that found the bridge was out of alignment.

Following a more detailed assessment and minor repairs, the ministry reopened the bridge to foot traffic only.

That leaves the residents of the Quick community with numerous questions.

Greg Young of the Quick Station Residents’ Association said a report by Wood Research and Development pegged the cost of repairing the bridge at approximately 20 per cent of the cost of a new one.

“When you’ve been presented with viable, cost-effective options to repair the bridge and rehabilitate the bridge, why is the only option you’re considering a replacement of the crossing,” Young asked.

“When they say that this is about a proper allocation of public funds, again, it feels a little ingenuine.

“We’re advocating for the repair because it’s the fastest, most cost-effective way to get the crossing open again.”

But Cullen said MoTI engineers disagreed and provided from the ministry.

“MoTI structural engineers completed an options analysis report and it has been determined that we will replace the existing structure with an Acrow bridge,” the statement said. “An Acrow structure was determined to be the quickest and most cost-effective method to have a reliable crossing in Quick.

“Keeping the current Howe Truss is not practical. Due to their age, the timbers in the structure would continue to decay. This would require continuous maintenance activity to replace decaying timbers.”

The Quick Bridge turned 100 years old this year. Built in 1921, it is one of the few Howe Truss bridges left in B.C. north of Quesnel.

That heritage is another thing Quick residents want to preserve, but Young said the bottom line is they need a crossing of some sort sooner rather than later.

Young, for example, now has to drop his kids off on the Quick side of the bridge where they cross the 300-foot span by foot to catch the school bus on the other side, which is not ideal especially with winter coming, he said.

Also, for people who commute to Telkwa for work, the Lawson Road detour is a longer and more treacherous drive, particularly in the winter.

“So, it’s really affecting a lot of people,” Young said.

He also worries the replacement won’t get done by the spring because of the scope removing the old bridge and building the new, as well as weather.

“It’s also hinging on adequate ice cover, which has not been great in past years,” he said. “We’ve had freeze ups the last two years but they’ve been ice jam events, which are not ideal conditions for working on as opposed to an edge ice freeze.”