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Trail Historical Society wants old bridge reopened

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Members of the Trail Historical Society want to look at reopening a historic crossing of the Columbia River.

They have written to the City of Trail seeking a declaration that the steel vehicle bridge, built in 1912 and closed since 2010, be declared historically significant.

“Such a designation will allow the Trail Historical Society to apply for government grants to fund an updated structural engineering study on the feasibility and cost of restoring the old bridge,” co-chair Doug Bruce wrote to council in a letter of Jan. 20.

Bruce said they would like to explore opening the bridge “at least for pedestrian/cycle traffic but possibly for some level of motor vehicle traffic as well.”

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The city-owned bridge was closed on an engineer’s recommendation that said it could not “be used in any way, shape or form due to severe deterioration.”

As a result, the Columbia River Skywalk was built to handle the utility lines that the old bridge previously carried. It opened in late 2016 and included a pedestrian crossing.

When the society’s letter hit the council table on Monday, city staff recommended council reject the idea.

“While the interest of the Trail Historical Society to commemorate the old bridge is appreciated, the difficult decision to close the bridge that was made in 2010 remains sound,” deputy administrator Michelle McIsaac wrote in a note to council.

“Designating the old bridge as being ‘historically significant’ would not only impede the city’s plans for its demolition, but also set unrealistic expectations related to its future use.”

However, councillor Carol Dobie wasn’t ready to dismiss the request.

“They have great enthusiasm for this project and I just think out of respect for them coming forward and trying to do something good for Trail we should let them go through the steps themselves,” she said. “The result could well be the same. But for us to give them a blatant no, I don’t think makes us look good.”

Dobie suggested deferring the request to a future meeting, where members of the historical society could be present. The rest of council agreed.

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