A map shows the location of the proposed bridge relative to the town of Blue River.

Regional District approves Blue River bridge

Pedestrian bridge would connect to trail systems north of the Blue River

Times Staff

There soon will be a pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south shores of Blue River.

During its June 15 meeting, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors approved spending $75,000 to construct a pedestrian bridge in Herb Bilton Way Park in Blue River.

The money will come from the Area B (Thompson Headwaters) community park capital budget.

The project is expected to be completed by the fall of this year.

The board also authorized Clearwater resident Tim Panko to act as the TNRD’s agent for submitting applications for the Ministry of Environment permits required to establish bridge and trail infrastructure improvements at Herb Bilton Way Park.

According to background provided by staff, there formerly was a logging bridge across the Blue River but it was damaged and removed by a debris flow many years ago.

Herb Bilton Way Park is located within a License of Occupation (LOO) that the TNRD has had since 1989.

The Blue River and Avola community trails plan commissioned in 2007 identified a bridge across the Blue River as the number one priority.

Thompson Headwaters services committee (THSC) has been working towards construction of a bridge since then, but has had to prioritize other projects for liability reasons as well as to ensure that there was legal authority to access the trails system on the north side of the river, if a bridge was built.

Mike Wiegele Heli-Ski Resort (MWHS) recently entered into a trails partnership agreement with a provincial government agency, Recreation Sites and Trails BC, to maintain the trails on the north side of the Blue River adjacent to the LOO.

With the establishment of legal rights to utilize and maintain the trails on the north side of the crossing, the THSC prioritized the construction of the pedestrian bridge and asked the board to approve $75,000 to build it.

The regional district and MWHS have begun winter cross-country ski trail maintenance. The groups are also undertaking summer maintenance for the recreational use of trails surrounding the Blue River on the east side of the CN railway tracks.

Since the TNRD has indicated that it wishes to move forward with the installation of a new bridge to promote safer access to the trails on the north side of the Blue River, MWHS has committed to assisting through the provision of in-kind works, or funding, to support the project.

The TNRD will take the lead on the project as it occurs within the regional district’s LOO.

Currently, the TNRD does not have authority over the road access or the bridge site as those were specifically not included in the original LOO at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s request.