Friendlier and more usable bridge sidewalks explored

Improvement list includes old Skeena Bridge, Sande Overpass in Terrace

A cyclist rides across the Sande Overpass in Terrace in Sept. 2020. Widening the sidewalks on the overpass and bridges in Terrace would be a way to make them safer and more useful for active transportation. (Black Press Media file photo)

A cyclist rides across the Sande Overpass in Terrace in Sept. 2020. Widening the sidewalks on the overpass and bridges in Terrace would be a way to make them safer and more useful for active transportation. (Black Press Media file photo)

There might be ways to make the bridges on either side of Terrace friendlier and more usable for pedestrians and cyclists, City of Terrace officials are suggesting.

For the Dudley Little Bridge on Hwy16 approaching the city from the east, or for the Sande Overpass now spanning the railway tracks and for the Kalum River Bridge west of town, the answer could very well be a widening of their existing but very narrow sidewalks.

And that would take the form of cantilevering, or extending the sidewalks’ widths, past the current width of the bridge structures.

Although owned by the provincial government, city officials have offered the services of the city’s engineering department to prepare very preliminary concept drawings of how such construction might take place.

The prospect of that happening surfaced late last month when city council members raised the matter of cycling and walking projects during a first run-through of proposed city capital spending projects for 2022.

In a discussion on the extension of the Grand Trunk Pathway/millennium trail to the Kalum River Bridge, councillor Dave Gordon wondered about that bridge’s sidewalks which he described as too narrow and “quite substandard.”

City development services director David Block and engineering and public works director Jonathan Lambert told council of a meeting with Dan Baker, the provincial transportation and infrastructure ministry’s senior official for this area, on that very subject.

“There are ways and there are options,” said Block of potential improvements.

Lambert, although stressing that the bridges are the property of the provincial government, said concept drawings the city’s engineering department could produce to illustrate widened sidewalks would be a starting point for far more detailed design work to explore the feasibility of the idea and to assist in applying for grants.

“I’d like to advance the discussions to the point we could present options to council in the future,” he said.

For the old Skeena Bridge, the idea would not be to widen the sidewalk but to construct several viewing platforms along the length of the bridge and built off its existing piers.

Aside from a stopping place to observe the river flow below, these platforms would widen the sidewalk in intervals for more comfortable use of the sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists.

The sidewalk was engineered so that the base of light standards intrudes onto the sidewalk surface, resulting in multiple choke points.

Mayor Carol Leclerc signalled her agreement with the prospect of bridge sidewalk improvements, saying “that is scary, riding your bike on any one of those bridges.”

Councillor Brian Downie noted the particular problem of the Sande Overpass in that snow plowed up on sidewalks from vehicle lanes makes them all but impassable.

Wider sidewalks and some protection would change that, he suggested.

In a provided statement, the transportation ministry acknowledged conversations with the city.

“This includes exploring concepts for improvements to active transportation infrastructure on the bridges through town,” the statement indicated.

“The ministry is committed to working closely with the city to explore options for future provincial funding consideration. We will know more in the coming months.”