Kitimat Council will debate investigating second bridge crossing

A motion coming up for debate at tonight's meeting would call for studies into a second Kitimat River crossing.

Whatever work may have been done on figuring out if Kitimat needs a second river crossing will have to be started over when the town starts looking at the issue again.

At tonight’s July 15 Kitimat Council meeting Mary Murphy will be putting forward a motion for the District of Kitimat to “investigate the need, costs and options for a second bridge into Service Centre and the industrial area.”

It’s certainly no foreign idea. Even recently, local resident Bill Kearley was promoting building a second river crossing, in light of the proposal from PTI Group to build workforce accommodations so close to town. Kearley had wanted them to build further away, and for the town to develop a road that would connect the buildings to the Service Centre by way of a new bridge, which would come out near the former Methanex site.

At the time of that discussion the Sentinel sought information regarding any past studies of the proposed bridge and while it sounded like there may have been one done in the 1990s, the record of it hasn’t been found.

Director of Engineering for the District Tim Gleig said through e-mail in April that a second crossing was shown on planning maps for years, “anticipated to be a provincial highway.”

He recalled a study from the 90s by the Ministry of Transportation which concluded that “there was no foreseeable need for a second crossing.”

Public Affairs Officer Kate Trotter with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure looked through the legislative library but said she couldn’t find a copy of any report on a second Kitimat River crossing, and that no one in the engineering and bridge departments could find or recall one.

The report would have been at least 14 years old at this point.

Gleig said that a second river crossing was also a big topic in the early 80s during the construction of Ocelot (Methanex) and the Carbon Paste Plant but isn’t an issue that has been discussed extensively since.

“At that time a consultant was hired due to the long traffic back-ups approaching the bridge from town in the morning and from Service Centre in the afternoon,” he said. “Some adjustment to the traffic controller time was made at the time. Since then there are significantly fewer employees in the industrial area and with 10 and 12 hour shifts they leave work at different times.”