Bailey bridge closed again

  - NewsLeader file
— image credit: NewsLeader file

New cracks found during a routine inspection Sunday will keep the single-lane Bailey bridge between New Westminster and Coquitlam closed until repairs are carried out.

The cracks in the structure were discovered during a quarterly maintenance inspection on Sunday. It was scheduled to be reopened that evening, but the discovery meant it had to remain closed.

This is the second go-round of lengthy closures for the bridge in a year. Last February, structural assessments determined two of the bridge's trusses had been split forcing the bridge to be closed for nearly two weeks. The repair work brought the bridge back to the point where it could handle regular traffic again, but heavy truck traffic was banned with the maximum weight load being reduced from 48 tonnes to 15.

Coquitlam has consistently called for a new two-lane bridge to be built, but New Westminster has been steadfast in maintaining a bigger bridge would exacerbate an already heavily congested traffic situation at the intersection of Braid Street and Brunette Avenue.

The latest closure has reignited the debate over the future's crossing. Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said in an interview with the Tri-City News he did not know how long it would take for the bridge to be reopened, but the closure highlights the need to replace it.

"We have used up a whole year since this problem first came to light last March," Stewart said. "New Westminster has stalled and it is really getting frustrating and it is going to get expensive for these communities."

The dispute between the two communities is currently before a provincial arbitrator. Steward said he expected a ruling by April.

– with file from Gary McKenna

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