The first cars crossed the new Gellatly Bridge over Powers Creek in West Kelowna on May 1.
The replacement of the old bridge began in January, and despite the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the project finished on schedule and incurred no cost overruns, according to the City of West Kelowna.
“During these unprecedented times, I am grateful to share some good news with our residents and businesses as we reopen a key corridor along our city’s spectacular waterfront,” said Mayor Gord Milsom. “The replacement of this aging bridge was one of council’s priorities and we are excited to see it completed.”
The new structure has a life expectancy of 75 years, featuring an added sidewalk on the upstream side of the bridge and includes dedicated cycling lanes.
The old bridge’s wooden deck, which required routine maintenance, has been replaced with a far more durable asphalt surface.
The city said the new bridge is more resilient and capable to withstand the effects of climate change. In 2017 and 2018, flooding significantly impacted the structure, forcing a full closure of the old bridge. The new design incorporates a much higher elevation capable of accommodating 1-in-200-year flows of Powers Creek.
“We thank the contractor and its crews for excellent and efficient work,” said Allen Fillion, director of engineering and public works. “This was an important and necessary upgrade as the old bridge had foundations that were over 100 years old and the structure had reached the end of its useful life.”
Crews will return to the site to complete in-stream work in August to avoid disruption to fish habitat. This phase includes the final installation of channel rip rap and embankment protection. Minor delays to vehicle traffic may occur for about two weeks if required, but pedestrian and cyclist access is expected to be maintained.
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