BY BILL PHILLIPS
Willow Cale Road will become a through-road again by this summer, according to city officials.
“The works have have started on the repair for Willow Cale bridge at Haggith Creek,” said Adam Holmes, city engineer. “We plan to be open by the summer.
The has contracted Ruskin Construction of Prince George to install a support structure at the south end of the bridge in order to enable the future use of the steel girder bridge which has been closed since last fall.
“In September we had to close the road because in the original construction of the bridge, we found some movement that was happening once the old culvert was removed,” Holmes said. “We had to go back in and replace five metres of fill to stabilize the area.”
That fill has been allowed to settle over the winter and, Holmes said, there hasn’t been any more movement, which will allow the repairs to begin.
It’s a stretch of road that has been problematic for a couple of years. The bridge replaced a culvert that had been installed when the Willow Cale Forest Service Road was first built. An inspection indicated that the culvert was failing and by early 2016, single-lane traffic was implemented across the culvert. Construction of a replacement crossing began in September, 2016 and the bridge opened on March 30, 2017.
Last fall, crews installed a new culvert back in the creek and covered it with about five metres of fill. This has halted the movement of ground under the bridge. Subsequently, city engineers have been working with geotechnical and bridge specialists, as well as with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to develop a permanent solution.
Ruskin Construction will drive two steel piles into the ground on the south side of the creek and build a brace structure to support the bridge deck. After this work is completed, the north-side bridge abutment will be inspected and sealed. In total, this work is expected to take three months.
The original bridge had a budget of just under $3 million. The culvert that crews installed last fall cost roughly $500,000 and engineering department will be heading back to council with an amended budget request for the project.
“There are two things that are important for us,” he said. “Obviously, the safety of the public and we want to get this bridge open as quickly as possible.”
The detour will remain in place until the bridge repair is completed. The city will continue to have meetings with user groups to inform them of progress.