District of Kent officials were disappointed but determined to press on after recently receiving a response from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure concerning the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge.
During the Sept. 8 council meeting, councillors discussed a letter dated Aug. 27 from MOTI Minister Rob Fleming, responding to a letter of concern from the District of Kent.
The district gave the greenlight to writing their letter of concern in mid-June. While the letter acknowledged the funds to improve the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge, local officials also expressed disappointment with the rehabilitation project, saying the current plans lacked “a vital and extremely important active transportation link between these communities.”
In his response letter, Fleming said adding 2.5-metre sidewalks to both sides of the bridge, reinforcing to support the extra weight and install barriers for pedestrian safety would cost approximately $90 million, based on a March 2021 study. For perspective, the current improvement project to repair steel and concrete components is $29 million. Additionally, if the ministry went forward with additional sidewalks, the provincial government would also have to conduct additional analysis and consultation with local First Nations communities.
Fleming said he would have MOTI reach out to improve active transportation signage along the bridge.
“While the response was disappointing, Mayor and Council will continue to advocate for a safer bridge that enhances active transportation such as walking and cycling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” reads a statement from the district.
In June, The Observer conducted a survey to gauge local concerns surrounding the bridge, gathering more than 280 responses. The residents echoed the concerns of district officials concerning safety and active transportation, and approximately 60 per cent of participants supported the addition of two traffic lanes. Two-thirds of participants supported working on both improvements for cyclists and pedestrians as well as two more lanes for traffic. The results were published this summer and shared directly with the office of Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon.