A new design for a pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Courtenay River will be
officially unveiled at a meeting of the City Council on Monday evening (April 13).
But today readers can get a sneak peek of what the Sixth Street Bridge Steering Committee is now proposing in order to address some concerns expressed when its idea for a timber-framed bridge was first put forward.
Having consulted in detail with bridge-building engineers, the committee is now promoting the concept of a 60-metre (200 ft.) cable-stayed suspension bridge, primarily built of special steel, with a 4.5-metre (15 ft.) wide wood deck “as the most practical, cost-effective and best fit for this site.”
The committee says it would be “an architecturally iconic presence in downtown,” with the cables holding the deck in place stretching from twin steel supports on the Simms Park side of the river.
Committee chair Harry Holland said the group hoped to win the Council’s backing in principle to the concept so they could actively start fundraising — primarily by approaching corporations, trusts and foundations, and the wider community — to meet the anticipated $1.9 million cost.
They would, he added, not be seeking money from the City itself, as they had already begun to identify potential new sources of finance. But if the campaign is successful, and the project goes ahead, they would look to the municipality to maintain the bridge in the future.
Unlike Fifth Street Bridge, the committee says the new bridge will require minimal maintenance because of the type of construction materials now proposed — a key reason for switching the design from a predominantly timber-frame design, which had been a concern of City staff.
The latest proposals also see the bridge location offset from the bottom of Sixth Street to make sure Central Builders continues to have convenient access to all its buildings, and to allow City crews clear vehicle access for bulk snow disposal in winter.
The new siting also creates the opportunity for a small pedestrian gathering area, and a timber framed ‘gateway’ feature to highlight the way on to the bridge.
“We see this bridge not just spanning the river, but bridging two important milestones in our
history,” Holland explained. “We would like to get the project underway in this, the City of Courtenay’s Centenary year, and see it complete and in use for the 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017. It would be an absolutely tremendous legacy project marking both anniversaries.”
The bridge is intended to link pedestrian and bike trails on both sides of the river, most significantly the Courtenay Riverway on the west bank, and both existing and proposed paths and trails leading out of the park of the east side. It is also intended to take a lot of foot and bike traffic off Fifth Street Bridge, making that structure less congested and safer for drivers.
At Monday’s council meeting, Holland will be joined by Tim O’Brien of Outlook Land Design — a civil engineering and landscape architecture company — and architect Phillipa Atwood, who have worked with the committee to put the latest and more detailed proposals together.
The trio will offer more information on the proposals, which have been worked on since the council gave “in principle” support for the original project two years ago. They will formally present a detailed 28-page report, which will include ten computer-generated images showing details of the proposed bridge from many angles, in the daytime as well as at night.
“We always envisaged the original bridge project as helping in the revitalization of downtown, making it an easily accessible destination for pedestrians and cyclists — especially those from the east side of the river,” said Holland. “We believe the new design is even more exciting and hope that will be supported regionally as a step forward for green initiatives such as active transportation, cycling safety, and the easing of traffic congestion.”