Drivers on Hwy. 3 would have noticed the works underway at Elko, with the Elko Overhead set to be completely replaced by this time next year.
The bridge is intended to improve traffic flow and safety, with a turning lane into the Elko community to avoid having turning traffic be stationary in an active lane.
The current bridge is from the 1950s, and no longer fit for purpose as it is decaying.
A Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) spokesperson said that while there will be some traffic pattern changes during reconstruction of the north and south approaches of the bridge, there will be two lanes open at all times.
In the plans, the existing Elko Overhead bridge will remain in place until the new bridge, immediately to the east, is completed.
The new bridge, which has been under construction since mid-August 2022, is “on schedule” and expected to be completed by August 2023 according to MOTI.
This timeline represents a delay: When the project was announced by the ministry as going ahead in 2021, it was expected to be completed by summer 2022.
Initially there had been concerns the replacement project would be delayed due to an impasse between the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Environment, which maintains jurisdiction of the Elko Provincial Park to the west of the Hwy.
Designs would have required the new bridge and approaches take a small slice out of the under-used park to allow for the turning lane.
Both ministries told The Free Press at the time that they were working through the problem, and in schematics of the plans adopted since, it appears they have compromised by not touching the park.
The project was originally budgeted at $9.6 million, and according to the ministry the project is now projected to cost $12 million.
Whatever the setbacks and changes, Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), Area B Director Stan Doehle said the upgrade was a long time coming.
“It is great to see this project moving forward, several years of planning have gone into this project,” he said.
“When this project is completed there will be a major safety benefit to the community of Elko, left turn lane into the community of Elko ,pedestrian underpass ,and a new intersection for the gas bar and store.
“I look forward to the completion of this project for the traveling public and the residents of Elko.”
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