It’s a Lake Cowichan landmark and one that is used daily by many pedestrians and cyclists opting for a shorter and more scenic route to the downtown area. The old railway bridge that crosses the river from Somenos Street to the town green space on the corner of Greendale and South Shore Road has garnered some concerns from local users.
The pedestrian bridge has lots of bicycle and foot traffic and in the dim light of a foggy winter morning or at night; some of the hazards are difficult to see. The decking in place at the south end of the bridge is worn and in places there are holes between the planks wide enough for a bicycle tire to drop into them. The non-slip wire mesh in place on one side is showing wear and in places has broken ends that could easily cause a hazard for pedestrians.
“We haven’t gotten any complaints,” said Joe Fernandez, Chief Administrative Officer for the town. “Any complaints that we receive, we try to get right on them and deal with them.”
The bridge was originally built for the railway that hauled lumber and freight between Lake Cowichan and Duncan. It has been in use as a footbridge for many years. Although exterior rust and wear are making it show its age, the bridge is still structurally sound.
“We had an inspection done in 2006 by a structural engineer and it was determined that it is sound,” said Fernandez. “We looked at relocating the handrails and the water main that runs below the bridge and painting the whole thing, but funding is an issue.”
The cost to carry out the proposed bridge improvements was estimated at approximately $70,000 and there are no current plans to implement them.
The Town of Lake Cowichan maintains all the trails, footpaths and pedestrian bridges within the town limits although the CVRD looks after the Trans Canada Trail.
“There is some overlap, so we share sometimes,” said Fernandez.
With the Mayor and Council encouraging local citizens to employ greener methods of transportation, it is important that our pedestrian bridges, trails and sidewalks be kept in the best shape possible.