UPDATED: Two bailey bridges for Coquitlam to New West?
The provincial government will pay for a new Bailey bridge between Coquitlam and New Westminster — but only if the Royal City allows the province to add a second one-lane span at the end of United Boulevard.
Yesterday, in a letter to New West Mayor Wayne Wright, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said his ministry will replace the now-closed bridge at no cost to the city.
If New West approves the project, it would solely be responsible for the existing bridge's installation and maintenance.
Further, the province would pick up the cost of a second temporary one-lane bridge to improve traffic flows and safety and that structure could be open later this year, Stone wrote.
In an interview with The Tri-City News yesterday, Stone said the two-bridge package is worth $2 million and Coquitlam would kick in another $800,000 for surrounding road and environmental works on its side.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart told The Tri-City News Stone's decision "puts in place a solution that we've been wanting all along. It's not perfect but it's better than what we have."
The two cities have been at loggerheads for years about the Bailey bridge, which shut down earlier this year because of structural problems. Nearly 10,000 vehicles a day used the bailey bridge when it was open.
Stone, who visited the site on March 18 and said he has not heard back from Mayor Wright, said the province has received stories about "near misses" from people trying to get to Royal Columbian Hospital on time, using the Bailey connector.
"This corridor is critical to the safety and well-being of people in the region," Stone said.
He added, "Nothing is being forced on New West here. This is completely up to New Westminster to make the decision as they see fit."
Coquitlam has asked the province for an arbitrator to look at a permanent two-lane replacement.
A call to the city of New Westminster was not returned by The Tri-City News' print deadline.