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Coquitlam, New West agree on double Bailey bridge

The single-lane Braid Street Bailey bridge, which has been closed to vehicle traffic since March, will be replaced by two Bailey bridges following an agreement between Coquitlam and New Westminster announced Thursday. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader file
The single-lane Braid Street Bailey bridge, which has been closed to vehicle traffic since March, will be replaced by two Bailey bridges following an agreement between Coquitlam and New Westminster announced Thursday.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader file

Coquitlam and New Westminster have finally agreed on the Braid Street Bailey bridge.

It took a while, but the two cities have announced an agreement to replace the existing one-lane structure with two single-lane Bailey bridges.

One of the crossings would include pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

The existing bridge was declared unsafe and closed in March. New Westminster wanted to replace it with another single-lane bridge while Coquitlam wanted two. New West balked because council felt two lanes would add to congestion at the busy Braid and Brunette Avenue intersection. Coquitlam said two was needed for the proper movement of goods and for emergency reasons.

The matter went to a provincial adjudicator whose decision was binding. He ruled in Coquitlam's favour last month.

A single-lane bridge New Westminster acquired from Ontario before the ruling will be used for one of the crossings. The second one will be provided on loan from the provincial government.

"Obviously the City of New Westminster was trying to make the best out of a difficult situation," said Coun. Jonathan Coté, who is serving as acting mayor this month. "Ultimately we had no choice but to implement what the provincial arbitrator had decided."

The total cost of the replacement is estimated at $1.2 million and will be shared by both cities. That includes paying the province for its bridge if it's still needed three years from now. Coté said the prep work required for the second bridge will eat up a lot of the cost. New Westminster was set to spend $170,000 on the replacement bridge it had purchased and its installation before the arbitrator's ruling came down.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said he looks forward to moving together with New West to develop a long-term solution.

"We have long maintained that the Braid Street bridge is an important piece of the region's transportation network, and we know that many businesses on both sides of the Brunette River count on this corridor for goods movement," said Stewart.

Coté said New Westminster will be keeping a close eye on the consequences of having two lanes connecting Coquitlam's United Boulevard to the Braid industrial area. He fears backups will increase at the nearby train crossing and at Braid and Brunette.

"If problems do arise we might have to look at other ways of solving those problems that the one-lane bridge was looking to alleviate," said Coté.

Installation of the two bridges will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by mid-September. Until one of the bridges is operational the crossing is closed to all traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians.

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