The Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) has started construction of the Fairy Creek Trail pedestrian bridge, to provide people with a safer alternative than using the Highway 3 bridge. The new bridge will cross the Fairy River just beside the Highway 3 bridge. According to Simon Piney, one of three members on the FTA’s bridge committee, the City of Fernie, FTA, and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) identified the need for the bridge up to three years ago.
“The FTA decided to take it on, but without a dollar in the bank for it the main focus over the past few years has been to raise money for the bridge,” he said. “We have had to go to a bunch of places to get grants. It is more than what the FTA usually does, it’s our biggest bridge project.”
After completing surveys, the FTA determined that the bridge will help more than 10,000 people cross Fairy Creek each year.
“We did some surveys on people that use these trails. We put up an electronic camera on just one trail and had over 12,000 people on it a year,” he said. “Then you add to that the Visitor Centre and start adding in the people who live up on Dicken Road and then you’re up to tens of thousands of journeys that we can hopefully steer off the highway.”
The estimated completed cost of the bridge will be around a quarter of a million dollars. The costs and construction will be split into three phases.
“It is done in phases, the initial phase, which is engineering was around $10,000 to get a survey done, plans drawn up and that sort of thing. The budget to get to the bridge structure, where we are at now, to get decking and railings will probably be around $125,000. We really wanted to get the bridge itself done, the following phase is getting a roof on, doing some landscaping and paving, that should be another $125,000.”
The workers are just starting the foundation process, with Summit Contracting doing the foundation work. The bridge has been over-designed and uses similar supports that the vehicle bridge does, according to FTA chair and one of the City of Fernie’s Operational Services Department engineers, Terry Nelson.
“The I-beams are similar to what you would see on the Highway 3 bridge,” he said. “Our part is the foundation and steel work. It will take approximately a month and a half to complete that.”
While there are three phases for the bridge, the end of Phase 2 will have a functional bridge for pedestrians to use.
“The initial phase will have the steel arriving in early to mid May and it will take them two to three weeks to make the adjustments and customizing,” said Piney. “Then they will assemble it, maybe put the decking on and put it in place. The final stage, which is to put on the railings and such should be early June, then we will be good to go.”
Nelson concluded that, the goal is to finish Phase 2 and have the bridge in safe and usable condition by July 1. More work to the design and aesthetics of the bridge is the next phase of the construction.