Riders weary of biking alongside traffic on Fairy Creek Bridge may not have to worry for much longer as a Fairy Creek pedestrian bridge is slated for completion this year.
The Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) spearheaded the project, which has in the works for almost a decade.
The plan is to build a safe pedestrian corridor from the Fernie Visitor’s Centre into the City of Fernie as well as connections into the existing Fernie dyke trail network.
The total budget for the project is approximately $121,000 and in order for the project to be completed, the FTA is looking for $65,000 in funding.
“The residents out on Dicken Road and a number of other people who are affected by this corridor have been suggesting we need some kind of access in this area,” said Simon Piney, a volunteer with the FTA. “In all other areas of the city, everyone can achieve access to the center of the city in one way or another by green means of transportation. Paradoxically, you cannot do that from our Visitor’s Centre. If you want to walk to our Visitor’s Centre you have to risk your life on the hard shoulder of the highway.”
Due to persistent lobbying for the project, it has now been cited as a priority in the City of Fernie’s Official Community Plan.
When the bridge is complete, Piney said it will be possible to bike from the Visitor’s Centre, through town and to the ski hill without having to ride along the highway.
The FTA hopes to construct the bridge either in late 2015 or the spring of 2016. Installation will take approximately four to six weeks.
“Our official timetable is this year and that’s because our grants want us to build this year. They don’t want to invest in something that takes three years to deliver,” explained Piney.
Design and engineering of the bridge will cost approximately $10,000 and will be covered under a Columbia Basin Trust Initiatives Fund. Adjoining trails on either side of the bridge are currently being constructed at an $18,000 price tag to the FTA, who will also provide $3,000 signage at the project’s end.
The $20,000 abutment assessment and repair costs and the actual $70,000 construction/installation costs of the bridge are currently still unaccounted for.
Piney said that the Ministry of Highways is “extremely enthusiastic” to see improvements made to this portion of the highway and the FTA is hopeful for ministry funding through the Cycling Infrastructure Partnerships Program (CIPP).
“Fortuitously, the people who really want to see a solution are handing out the money,” said Piney, “and this project ticks every box they have. It connects communities, it gets cars off the road and more.”
The CIPP can give up to $100,000, and an application for funding has been sent in.
“We are increasingly confident that we have the momentum it needs to happen. We do have a funding gap and any support that we can possibly obtain will make a very big difference to when it will happen and what the end result will look like,” said Piney, who noted that the installation costs for the bridge will provide the city with a bare minimum structure, which he hopes they can beautify or add to in time.
“We’re anticipating that we may not get all the funding at once but we want to get it functional and then add as we go along. We don’t want to see kids riding along the hard shoulder anymore but we do want something that is not only safe, green, and useful to residents but will also have tourist appeal and is beautiful to look at.”