How We Rehabbed the Old Kootenay River Channel Bridge

The Old Kootenay Channel Bridge
The Old Kootenay Channel Bridge

The Old Kootenay River Channel Bridge, or Old Kootenay Bridge as it is commonly referred to, is just west of Creston on Highway 3. If you’ve never been there before, you can see it here on Google Maps. It’s a straight, two-lane bridge about 300 metres long and runs over the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area – a very sensitive wetlands ecosystem that’s home to a large number of hooved animals, lizards, amphibians and water birds.

Like any bridge, we’ve got to make sure it’s properly maintained and kept in good condition, so last year we hired Seismic 2000 Construction Ltd. to do just that. There was a lot of work to do. Concrete on the bridge deck and piers had to be repaired, and all of the joints and bearing assemblies needed to be replaced. If you’re wondering what a bridge bearing is, welcome to Bridge Building 101. A bearing is used to transfer force from the bridge into the support below. You can see one pictured here.

A bridge bearing, circled here in red. The Old Kootenay River Channel Bridge
A bridge bearing, circled here in red.

The project had its challenges, especially given the delicate ecosystem the crews had to work around, and timing was crucial to keep environmental impacts to a minimum. Before the spring freshet, Seismic installed a complex scaffolding system, allowing them access to every part of the bridge, even as the water levels rose. The extra care was well worth it in the end, and even the Cliff Swallows, which frequently nest on the bridge, weren’t disturbed.

Of course, it wasn’t just the wildlife we were concerned about. Highway 3 is a vital corridor for trade and travel, and we needed to make sure traffic could still get through as well.

This might not sound like a big deal, until you consider the fact that to do the necessary repairs,

Seismic needed to jack up the entire bridge – 20 separate sections on 19 piers – and put it on temporary blocks. And they were able to do that while maintaining single-lane alternating traffic with minor delays. They only had to close the bridge for 10-15 minute periods when the bridge was being raised by the jacks.

The project was completed this past fall, and when you think of everything they had to contend with and the end result, the Old Kootenay Bridge rehabilitation was an impressive piece of work. So much so, that it was highlighted at our Deputy Minister Contractor of the Year Awards.

Have you travelled over the bridge since this project was finished? What do you think?

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