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No replacement plans for Waneta bridge: ministry

BC’s oldest bridge isn’t going to be replaced anytime soon, according to the Ministry of Transportation.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary recently wrote to the province asking for information about the condition and future of the Waneta bridge, on Highway 22A south of Trail. It was built in 1893 as a one-lane railway bridge and converted to a highway bridge in mid-1940s after a new railway bridge was built alongside it.

The RDKB said it’s concerned the bridge is hindering economic growth in the area, and added that there are environmental and safety advantages to replacing it.

They said much of the cross-border heavy goods traffic through the region goes uphill through Rossland and then descends to the Paterson crossing. The board said it is also concerned about highway safety, especially, in winter, given that traffic passes through downtown Rossland.

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They added that providing an alternate option for major commercial traffic will reduce vehicle emissions associated with climbing the road to and from the border.

However, in his response, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming wrote: “At this time, the ministry has not developed plans for the Waneta bridge’s eventual replacement.”

He referred the RDKB to the local district highways manager. The board plans to schedule a meeting with him.

The bridge received an extensive safety upgrade in 2007. At that time, it was averaging fewer than 130 vehicles per day.

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