R.W. Bruhn Bridge - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Public consultation for the  R.W. Bruhn Bridge Project will be online this year due to COVID. Find answers to some frequently asked questions about the project. 

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New and Updated as of: May 7, 2021 

New and Updated as of: March 17, 2021 

Updated: January 27, 2021 

How do I get road closure updates?

You can find the latest road closure updates for the entire province at www.drivebc.ca

What options have been considered for the replacement of the RW Bruhn Bridge?

In February 2018, the ministry held an open house to gather input from the community on replacement options for the RW Bruhn Bridge. For background, you can view the 2018 open house material here.

In December 2018, after extensive consultation, analysis and field work, the ministry identified a one-bridge design for replacement of the RW Bruhn Bridge. The information bulletin can be viewed here. 

Why was the two-bridge option not advanced?

The results of archaeological field work and the cultural significance of the project area has guided the ministry’s decision to advance the one-bridge design over the two-bridge option, given the need to minimize impacts.

Other important considerations included technical, financial, and environmental information, along with feedback from local government, Indigenous communities, the public and the Project Liaison Committee comprised of technical, community and business group representatives. 

Why is a new bridge needed? Can the existing bridge be repaired for ongoing use?

The existing bridge is over 50 years old and while it is safe for users, the aging infrastructure is nearing the end of its service life and is in need of replacement.

Major bridge rehabilitation has been considered, but it has been determined that bridge replacement is necessary given the condition and constraints of the aging structure and the significant risk associated with its rehabilitation. 

When will construction start and how long will it take to build?

A three-year construction period is anticipated for the project with construction targeted to start in 2022. Relocation of BC Hydro infrastructure, and localized tree clearing that is required as part of this work, has been initiated and will continue throughout 2021.

What opportunities are there for the public to provide feedback on the project?

Since fall 2014, meetings have been held with local government, Indigenous communities, impacted property owners, and liaison committees to gather input on the project.

In 2018, the ministry held a public open house in Sicamous. Informationon previously completed public engagements, including the results, are available online at: www.gov.bc.ca/bchwy1-bruhn

Due to COVID19 restrictions we are unable to hold an in-person information session. Please visit the website to keep updated on the project. For more information or to provide feedback on the project, contact rwbruhnbridge@gov.bc.ca. 

How will the project accommodate pedestrians and cyclists? Will the project integrate with the planned Rail Trail project?

A three-metre wide multi-use path will provide a safe connection for pedestrians and cyclists from Gill Avenue to Old Spallumcheen Road across the Sicamous Narrows. The new path will be located on the south side of the bridge and will interconnect with the future Rail Trail project.

The project is engaging with Splatsin on the design of the multi-use path connection to the future Rail Trail, given the cultural and archaeological sensitivity of the area and the need to minimize impacts. Engagement is also ongoing with technical representatives from the Rail Trail project to inform the final design. 

Is the new multi-use path proposed on the south side of new highway bridge safe?

Currently, pedestrians and cyclists accessing Sicamous from the east side of the narrows use the existing highway shoulder, which is as narrow as 1m, and a raised 1.7m wide sidewalk on the bridge.Both the existing shoulder and sidewalk are directly adjacent to highway traffic.

The project includes a new 3m wide multi-use path along the south side of Highway 1 between Old Spallumcheen Road and Gill Avenue.Pedestrian and cyclist safety in ensured by separating the multi-use path from vehicle traffic by a concrete barrier in accordance with ministry standards.The travel lanes are further separated from the multi-use path by a 2.5m wide shoulder adjacent to the barrier.

Pedestrians and cyclists from Old Sicamous Road residences will access the multi-use path on the new bridge along the shoulder of the new road under the bridge that connects Old Sicamous road to Old Spallumcheen Road.This connecting road includes a paved 1.5m wide shoulders on either side to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists in accordance with ministry design standards for a local, low speed road (40km/h). The multi-use path, and its connection with Old Spallumcheen road and Old Sicamous Road, are designed so that local pedestrians and cyclists can cross the Sicamous Narrows without any interaction with Highway 1.

Refer to the following plan showing pedestrian and cyclist journeys following completion of the Project.

 Plans for the multi-use path on the south side of the highway bridge. Includes new 3m wide path along south side of Hiwhay 1 between Old Spallumecheen Road and Gill Avenue. Travel lanes are further separated from the pagth by a 2.5 m wide shoulder adjacent to the barrier.

The multi-use path proposed for the Project is consistent with what has been included on other ministry bridge projects, such as the recently completed Lizard Creek bridge that forms part of the overall multi-use path trail network connecting Fernie Alpine Resort to the town of Fernie. This bridge also includes a 3.0m multi-use path and is separated from traffic by the same 810mm high concrete barrier that is proposed on the Bruhn Bridge multi-use path. However, the Lizard Creek bridge has a slightly narrower 2.0m paved shoulder separating the multi-use path from traffic than the proposed 2.5m shoulder for the Bruhn Bridge. The posted speed limit on the Lizard Creek bridge is 80km/h, consistent with the proposed speed limit for the Bruhn Bridge.

Who will be responsible for costs associated with the project?

In November 2018, $224.5 million in joint provincial- federal funding was approved for the project. This includes up to $91.08 million from the Government of Canada under the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund. Funding announcement details can be viewed here.

What will the ministry do to minimize impacts to neighbouring properties?

The ministry is actively consulting with affected property owners to provide information about the project and its potential effects on private properties, including plans to help mitigate effects. 

Will the new highway bridge be able to accommodate houseboats? Are there any other navigational concerns for houseboats and other vessels?

A Marine Liaison Committee was established in 2018 to gather feedback from commercial and recreational water users and from Transport Canada on the new bridge design. The new bridge will maintain the same vertical clearance and will exceed the horizontal clearance of the existing RW Bruhn Bridge structure. The new bridge will require only one in-water pier as compared to the existing bridge which has two in- water piers.

Additional consultation with Transport Canada and the marine community is planned in 2021 to review the detailed design and to develop construction communication protocols and mitigation strategies to minimize impacts to marine users during construction. 

How will the project impact the existing boat launch under Highway 1?

Efforts will be made to reduce impacts to the Finlayson boat launch during construction to the greatest extent possible, particularly during peak summer months. Removal of the existing bridge is anticipated during the third season of construction, with temporary closures to the boat launch expected to ensure the safety of the public.

A detailed construction management and communication plan will be developed by the construction contractor to minimize construction impacts and ensure advanced communication of planned temporary and intermittent closures to the marine community.

Will the construction of a new bridge have environmental impacts on the channel?

Wildlife and spawning surveys have been undertaken and required mitigation measures have been developed to ensure that construction does not impact sensitive vegetation, wildlife or habitat features.

Underwater archaeological investigations have been completed and information from these investigations have guided pier placement as part of the bridge design.

The project construction will include environmental enhancement activities to further offset project impacts through improvements which will enhance vegetation and biological productivity within the project area. 

Why has the one-bridge design been reduced from 5-lanes to 4-lanes?

The ministry has not changed the scope of the Project. The connection of Old Spallumcheen Road and Old Sicamous Road to Highway 1 remains in the scope of the project. The four-lane design maintains the same functionality of the 5-lane design by eliminating the fifth lane on the bridge that was designed for Old Spall Rd traffic and accommodating highway access via a highway overpass at the west end of the project.

During design, the design engineers identified safety issues including weaving and conflicts between eastbound highway traffic on the fifth lane of the bridge and traffic entering the highway from Old Spallumcheen Road.  Safety is improved by closing the accident-prone Old Spallumcheen intersection and relocating this access point further west, thus eliminating traffic weaving issues on the bridge and reducing conflicting movements on connecting roads which were identified as risks with the 5-lane design.

This design optimization significantly reduces project impacts in areas of extreme cultural and archaeological sensitivity and allows the existing RW Bruhn Bridge to remain in service during construction of the new bridge.

Why did the ministry select the one-bridge design in 2018 over the two-bridge option?

The results of archaeological field work and the cultural significance of the project area has guided the ministry’s decision to advance the one-bridge design over the two-bridge option, given the need to minimize impacts.

Other considerations in the decision included technical, financial and environmental information, along with feedback from local government, First Nations, the public and the project liaison committee.

How has the ministry engaged on the project since funding was approved in late 2018?

The ministry has made efforts to engage with a diverse group of interested parties throughout all phases of design. The 2020 year presented some unexpected circumstances, including the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and an early provincial election, which made engagement particularly difficult during this time. Key engagement activities undertaken on the project since 2018 have included engagement with local government staff on impacts to municipal infrastructure, engagement with District of Sicamous Council, engagement with Splatsin leadership and staff and other Secwepemc communities, engagement with impacted private land owners, engagement with technical representatives from Transport Canada, BC Hydro, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Regional District of North Okanagan, and the Rail Trail.

Did the one-bridge 5-lane design that was presented to the public in 2018 include a highway overpass at the west end of the project?

The one-bridge design that was presented to the public in 2018 did not include a highway overpass at the west end of the project. Instead, a fifth lane was proposed on the bridge to accommodate eastbound highway access from Old Spallumcheen Road by way of a dedicated right-hand turning lane extending from Old Spallumcheen Road to Gill Avenue.

During design, the design engineers identified safety issues including weaving and conflicts between eastbound highway traffic on the fifth lane of the bridge and traffic entering the highway from Old Spallumcheen Road.  Safety is improved by closing the accident-prone Old Spallumcheen intersection and relocating this access point further west, thus eliminating traffic weaving issues on the bridge and reducing conflicting movements on connecting roads which were identified as risks with the 5-lane design.

This design significantly reduces project impacts in areas of extreme cultural and archaeological sensitivity, makes the highway safer for users, and allows the existing RW Bruhn Bridge to remain in service during construction of the new bridge.

The current one-bridge design identifies plans to close the existing Highway 1 access at Old Spallumcheen Road.  Why is a second bridge not required to access Highway 1?

The connection of Old Spallumcheen Road and Old Sicamous Road to Highway 1 remains in the scope of the project. The current design includes a new underpass connection under the highway at the west end of the project so that both eastbound and westbound Highway 1 access is accommodated at the west end of the project for local residents of Old Spallumcheen Road and Old Sicamous Road.

What is the grade of the Old Sicamous Road/Old Spallumcheen Road connection?

The Old Sicamous Road/Old Spallumcheen Road connection has a maximum grade of 10.2%, which is within the standards set by the Transportation Association of Canada of 11%.

How will snow removal be managed to avoid dumping snow off the Bruhn Bridge onto the Old Sicamous Road/Old Spallumcheen Road connection?

Snow removal and storage strategies are actively being developed by the ministry’s District Operations team in conjunction with the road area maintenance contractor for the project. Safety is the ministry’s top priority and safe methods for snow removal will be developed.

What will the new posted speed limits be after complete of the project?

The highway design speed transitions from 100km/h to 80km/h at the west end of the project, approximately 120m west of Bruhn Bridge.  The 80km/h design speed is retained for the remainder of the project to the eastern limits at Hwy. 97A. The transition to the 60km/h posted speed limit will remain approximately 250m east of Silver Sands Road, prior to the signalized 97A intersection.

How is accommodation being made for cyclists on Highway 1?

Cyclists travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway from Salmon Arm to Sicamous will use the current highway shoulder which has a width that varies between 1.0m to 2.5m. The Bruhn Bridge project will include a paved 2.5m shoulder along both sides of Highway 1 within the Project limits to promote safe passage for cyclists traveling along the highway corridor in accordance with the BC Active Transportation Design Guide.

In addition to the 2.5m wide highway shoulder, cyclists will also have the option to cross the Sicamous Narrows by way of the new 3m wide multi-use path between Old Spallumcheen Road and Gill Avenue. The new multi-use path has been designed so that local pedestrians and cyclists can cross the Sicamous Narrows without any interaction with Highway 1.

Can the height of the barrier separating the multi-use path from highway traffic be increased?

Raising the height of the barrier that separates the multi-use path from vehicles between Old Spallumcheen Road and Gill Avenue is not recommended, as the proposed concrete barrier on the bridge (810 mm high) and approaches (690 mm high) considers the safety of all highway users, including vehicles, cyclists traveling along the highway shoulder, and cyclists and pedestrians traveling along the multi-use pathway.

Additional protection height (barrier railing) is recommended only by the BC Active Transportation Design Guide in circumstances where the traffic shoulder is narrow, which is not the case here, as a 2.5m wide shoulder is provided to accommodate cyclists passing by Sicamous traveling along the Trans-Canada Highway. For cyclists on the highway shoulder, it is safer not to include additional barrier protection height, such as barrier railing, as the current 810mm height ensures free movement of cyclists over the barrier in case of a collision.

 

Will the project include artwork or other aesthetic considerations?

The ministry is currently engaging with Splatsin to identify opportunities for the inclusion of indigenous artwork as part of the project to highlight the cultural significance of the area.