Plans for replacing the Salmon River Bridge and four-laning the Trans-Canada Highway at the west end of Salmon Arm appear to have been met with approval by a good proportion of Salmon Arm residents who viewed the latest plans.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure held an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, with about 175 people attending.
A cursory survey of those viewing the display boards and speaking to the 10 or so ministry staff on hand was positive.
Several said they are pleased the work will get moving again, others mentioned the need for a truck bypass now more than ever. Others emphasized the need for First Nations access from the west.
One display board states that the ministry anticipates tendering the preload work this winter for construction in the spring of 2018.
The first segment of work planned is from Indian Reserve #3 (IR#3) to First Avenue SW. The second includes First Avenue SW to 10th Avenue SW as well as four-laning 2.2 kilometres of Highway #1. The third segment includes 10th Avenue SW to 10th Street SW, with four-laning of 1.1 kilometres of the Trans-Canada.
Related link: Work to four-lane Highway 1 resumes
“I’m looking forward to it happening. It’s been a long time coming,” said resident Mike Smith. “That bridge on the highway needs to go.”
Overall, he likes the concept.
“It’s been well thought out. It’s going to work quite well.”
Sarah Weaver offered a caution.
“They really need to think about the impacts of climate change and the extreme events we’re going to be getting.”
Bill Laird said it’s good news the plans are proceeding and he emphasized the importance of a bypass.
“Salmon Arm needs to work hard on arranging a bypass as a community. It’s a long-range plan but it’s necessary. A bypass is what we need to talk about and become committed to as a community.”
Calvin VanBuskirk, who has expressed concern in the past about flooding and damming properties of the highway and bridge, said his questions were answered well by Urban Systems engineering.
Another issue he’s now watching is how the development will address access to First Nations on the west side of town. “I did see an improvement by adding the overpass and underpass scenario for First and Second Nations Road,” and he hopes final designs will include proper access.
He asks how it is possible after more than 150 years of Canada, 100 years of Salmon Arm and professionals designing roads that there is still no way for First Nations residing west of town to walk or drive safely into town – driving means turning left onto the speeding highway and walking involves the train and no proper pathway.
Terry Tarnow, whose business is Tarnow Homes across from Walmart, is pleased with the plans. He doesn’t think the design will hurt his business, and will make traffic flow better.
“It’s good they came and talked to us.”
Phil McIntyre-Paul likes the inclusion of the 10-foot-wide parallel and separated bike and pedestrian lanes, and hopes they can be connected beyond the project borders.
Nancy Moore would have liked to have seen timelines, but thinks the project is necessary given the dangers of the Salmon River Bridge. She likes the addition of sidewalks in some areas.
“It’s too bad that truck traffic can’t be bypassed,” she added.
Bill Grainger said he’s pleased the design will open up an access road for First Nations west of town. Both he and Jim Beckner expressed concerns about the plans shifting commercial development out of the downtown and to the west side.
Joe Johnson said he likes the design and the fact that the serious accidents the current Salmon River Bridge has seen will stop.
Display boards and feedback forms are available online at: gov.bc.ca/bchwy1-projects