By Lachlan Labere/Eagle Valley News
Repair work is underway on the Bruhn Bridge after pieces of the structure fell into a boat travelling below. Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Kate Trotter says that on Aug. 9, a triangular strip of concrete approximately three feet long by three inches thick fell from the outside deck of the bridge.
The Bruhn Bridge is located at the western end of Sicamous, spanning the channel of water that connects Shuswap Lake with Mara Lake.
“Unfortunately a boat was passing under the bridge at the time and it was struck by the piece of debris,” says Trotter, adding fortunately, no one was injured.
District of Sicamous administrator Alan Harris says the concrete pieces were brought in and shown to staff, and the ministry was contacted.
“On being informed about the incident, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure immediately inspected the bridge to ensure there was no danger,” says Trotter. “This was quickly followed up by a more thorough and detailed inspection the following day to see if there were other problem areas. ”
During inspection, boaters were directed to avoid the mid-channel of the river.
Trotter says the bridge was determined sound following a the inspection. However, as a precautionary measure, “any portion of the bridge that shows even the slightest sign of chipping or flaking will be reinforced.”
As of Tuesday, the bridge was reduced to single-lane alternating traffic.
Last summer, following a fatal accident on the Bruhn Bridge that resulted in the deaths of an Alberta couple, Sicamous Mayor Malcolm MacLeod and council wrote to the ministry with concerns about the 48-year-old bridge and it possibly being due for replacement.
“The fact that this is the Trans-Canada Highway, the number one highway linking our country, it should be better than what it is,” MacLeod said at the time.
MacLeod wants to readdress these concerns with the transportation minister at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Trotter, meanwhile, says the Bruhn Bridge is inspected annually, and that the most recent inspection did not reveal any indication of deterioration.
“Incidents such as this are very rare in B.C., due to a thorough and on-going bridge maintenance program,” says Trotter.