Deal reached for new river crossing

$4.2 million agreement that will fund an aerial sewer crossing across the Columbia River is reached.

Now that the regional sewer partners have reached a deal, the City of Trail could see a new shore-to-shore crossing as early as next year.

The regional district announced Wednesday that Rossland, Warfield and Trail had reached a $4.2 million agreement that will fund an aerial sewer crossing across the Columbia River.

After all the emotion swirling around the Columbia River pedestrian/pipe bridge proposal this year, in the end the three parties met without hoopla and within a week reached an amiable deal.

Based on the $10 million cost of bridge construction that includes a walking deck, new utility lines and the regional sewer interceptor pipe, Rossland will contribute $1 million toward the service; Warfield $527,000 and Trail, $2.6 million as a regional entity plus $6.2 million directly.

Talks began between the community leaders began at the province’s annual municipal conference two weeks ago, says Warfield Mayor Bert Crockett.

“Once we got the conversation going we knew we had to keep it going until we reached an agreement,” he said. “When we came back from Vancouver we called a meeting in the village’s chambers and pounded it out. Everyone was cooperative and that’s what we needed.”

Regional discussions about how to replace the aging sewer line on the Old Trail bridge began three years ago and since that time, the issue has festered amongst residents in affected communities and at the sewer committee level.

Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom vented frustration over the lengthy process last month, but says that the milestone agreement was reached through cooperation and understanding of each community’s situation.

“Rossland looks forward to a renewed spirit of cooperation with our neighbours,” Granstrom noted. “I believe it is extremely important that we as partners in the regional district continue to build on this co-operative effort.”

This is a big deal because we decided to come together and develop a proposal that would satisfy everyone, says Robert Cacchioni, adding the agreement shows that communities are working together to resolve major issues.

“No administration was involved,” explained the Trail councillor, regional director and chair of the sewer committee. “The agreement was hammered out by the three members of the committee and Mayor Dieter Bogs,” he continued. “We believe in terms of the regional sewer partnership that it’s going to be an advantage to the entire region. It’s the best option that’s safe, environmentally friendly and will be easy maintenance over the course of the next 100 years.”

The sewer service provider, which is the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, now has to write a bylaw that must be government approved and passed by Trail, Rossland and Warfield council before the three mayors sign on the dotted line.

“We’ve all come to terms with it so hopefully there will be no further hang ups,” said Crockett.

As Bogs readies to exit his 27-year political career next month, he said the agreement opens the door for better cooperation between the area’s municipalities now that emotion has been taken out of the sewer part of the project.

“This is good news,” he said. “And I am very pleased another major issue has been put to bed before I leave,” he chuckled. “And now we can take advantage of the river’s low level next spring when construction begins.”

The next step for the City of Trail is to finalize design plans that currently include a six-week wind study, explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer.

“It is hoped that the city will tender the project in early 2015 and that construction will commence in late February or early March,” he said. “The bridge should be completed and ready for use within 12-14 months after construction starts.”