A long-awaited desire for better pedestrian and cycling access to and from the Bench area on the part of the City of Terrace has now been recognized by a federal/provincial grant worth $649,580 which is to be combined with $72,146 from the city itself.
The plan, as submitted to the senior governments for money last year, would see a staircase connecting lower Eby St. with upper Eby St.
As designed, the Eby St. staircase would be 266 steps rising 100 metres. The uncovered stairs would be made of aluminum with serrated treads providing a better grip for year-round use. There would be an accompanying channel running parallel to the stairs to more easily push bikes up and guide them down.
Improved access for pedestrians and cyclists to the Bench was first mentioned in a city-commissioned study dating back to 2009.
Back then the idea was to have such a sidewalk built up Lanfear Hill but this grant for an Eby St. staircase was applied for because the city already had the project designed, something that was required for the application to be considered.
In council discussions a year ago with staffers, city development services director David Block said that if the grant application was successful, the city could ask that the money be shifted to a project up Lanfear.
As it is, the city spent $360,000 repairing the existing but narrow and gravelled footpath up Lanfear after sections of it began to slide away. At the time it was regarded as a temporary fix with a five-year lifespan.
Following that, city engineering director Jonathan Lambert proposed moving the pathway to the other side of the road, a route he suggested would be wider, safer and more separated from the vehicle lanes.