Chemainus River Bridge construction will cause detours

Construction on the old Chemainus River Bridge on Chemainus Road will start June 11 and is expected to last four months.

Commuters and residents who regularly drive over the Chemainus River Bridge on Chemainus Road will have to take the long way home for four months, starting June 11.

The old structure, located near Pinson’s Corner between Swallowfield and Ashcroft roads, is being demolished to make way for a modern bridge, complete with a walkway/bike path on both sides, according to John MacKay, North Cowichan’s director of engineering and operations.

Jacob Brothers Contracting will be doing the construction of the bridge until Oct. 11, closing the road completely to traffic, pedestrians and bicycles in both directions. There will be access to driveways for local traffic.

“There’ll be lots of signs that’ll alert people who drive there regularly that something’s happening,’’ said MacKay.

Reader boards will also be posted in the area on both sides of the bridge about three weeks before the construction begins, MacKay added.

Drivers heading north who normally use the route will have to turn onto Mount Sicker Road and back onto the Trans-Canada Highway to avoid the area.

Drivers heading south will have to detour back in Chemainus at Henry Road and onto the highway.

Some preliminary work was already done last year to prepare for the bridge construction.

Fortis BC and BC Hydro will also be conducting work prior to the bridge closure but it won’t affect traffic. MacKay said Sure Span in Duncan is supplying all the steel for the bridge.

The good news for taxpayers is the $5 million project is completely funded.

“I applied for a grant for it a few years back,’’ said MacKay. “One hundred per cent is paid by gas tax funding.’’

A structured contract provides the nearby Halalt First Nations with some flagging and labour work on the project. Concerns about speeding through the Halalt Reserve have also been addressed.

“We’re going to put a speed reader board on the road close to their new gym,’’ said MacKay.

Some will be sad to see the end of the historic bridge.

“It didn’t have any time left in it,’’ said MacKay. “It was time to go.’’