The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge has been 2 lanes for 65 years, and will likely stay that way for many more.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Welcome to the restart!
It’s begun. As of yesterday, BC entered the first stage of its new 4-part COVID restart plan. You can visit indoors with up to 5 visitors (or 1 household), and can head back into restaurants for a meal. Outdoor team sports are back on, and recreational travel within the Lower Mainland is no longer discouraged. More restrictions will be lifted in the future, possibly as soon as June 15 if cases and hospitalizations decline and vaccinations increase. You can read more details about this in our COVID section below, but for now give yourself a pat on the back. We are close to the end. Now we just need to take it slow and steady until we get there. —Grace Kennedy, reporter
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The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge is set to see 3 years of construction starting this summer. 📸 Grace Kennedy
$25-million rehabilitation project on the way for a key river crossing

Work to prevent the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge from falling into the Fraser River in the event of an earthquake will get underway this summer, but construction won’t see the increasingly busy link widened to 4 lanes, something residents had hoped for more than 60 years ago.

The bridgewhich connects Agassiz and Harrison to Chilliwack, Highway 1, and a steady stream of touristshas been in need of upgrades for several years. In 2017, the province committed $36 million for seismic upgrades to both the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge and the Rosedale Overpass. In 2019, the government used part of those funds to upgrade one of the piers holding up the bridge, preventing it from sliding into the Fraser River.

The Ministry of Transportation recently told The Current that more seismic upgrades will be happening this summer, with a budgeted cost of $25 million. The rehabilitation will include joint replacements and repairs to steel parts, as well as coating all the steel to prevent it from deteriorating. Construction is expected to take 3 years to finish.

The steel structure that holds up the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was built in 1956, and cost $4.5 million to build ($44.5 million in today’s dollars). The bridge was one of 24 to open that year, and marked a major change for residents and tourists who no longer needed to wait for the ferry to travel to Rosedale and Chilliwack.

(The Agassiz ferry it had replaced was overhauled and moved to Langley to begin the Albion ferry service, which connected Langley and Maple Ridge from 1957 until the opening of the Golden Ears Bridge in 2009.)

But the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge, for all its opening fanfare, had its disappointments.

In 1956, a week before the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was scheduled to open, The Province reported that residents were a "little bitter that the government, while engaged in the $4,000,000 project, didn’t go ‘all out’ and provide a 4-lane span that would take care of traffic needs well into the future."

Kent's population has increased by 10% in the last 5 years, while the bridge is also heavily used by tourists; summer weekends can see 50% more traffic than those in the winter.

The District of Kent’s 2040 Official Community Plan echoes the same sentiments from the 1956 Province article. The district wants to see the province replace the bridge with a 4-lane structure that has separate cycling and pedestrian lanes, or at least have the lamp posts relocated and separate cycling and walking paths included.

The upcoming construction to the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge won’t bring those changes to the heavily used crossing. Instead, the Ministry of Transportation said it will be "a rehabilitation project only, intended to extend the service life of the structure."

The average expected useful life for bridges in BC, according to Statistics Canada, is between 52 and 57 years. The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge is currently 65 years old. Someday, whether now or later, it will need to be replaced.

Need to Know
🚑 A pair of collisions in Abbotsford Monday night sent 5 people to hospital, including 1 person with life-threatening injuries. [Abbotsford News]

🔥 An early morning fire in Greendale was likely caused by a charging RV battery. [Chilliwack Progress]

🎓 A grade 12 student at Walnut Grove Secondary has been nominated for a $10,000 award for the 5-week business course she developed. [Vancouver Sun]

😷 An Agassiz man and a Chilliwack woman are facing assault charges after allegedly coughing in police officers' faces in 2 separate instances. [Agassiz Harrison Observer]

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MLA Bruce Banman, right, received $16K in pay from the City of Abbotsford while he was both a councillor and an MLA. 📸 Left: Tyler Olsen; Right: Bruce Banman/Twitter
The Agenda
Unlike some previous double-duty politicians, new Abbotsford MLA Bruce Banman continued to take his councillor’s salary during the 4 months he served in both positions following the provincial election.

Banman was elected to the provincial legislature in October, but didn’t resign his councillor’s seat until the end of February. He was paid $16,467 by the city between the date of his election as MLA and his resignation, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request. Politicians are allowed to hold both posts, and some, like Banman, attempt to do so, but nearly every recent instance has ended in a new MLA resigning their local government post.

On several occasions, such MLAs have attempted to keep their seat while forsaking their municipal salary. Banman told the Abbotsford News that he didn’t do so because he continued to do his councillor job. Banman did attend nearly every council meeting while serving in both roles.

In April, Mayor Henry Braun told the Abbotsford News that Banman had surprised the city by resigning, because he initially indicated a desire to hold his seat through the year, thereby saving Abbotsford the cost of holding a by-election. Banman told The Current that he decided to resign his seat after learning more about the scope of his new job.

"After some soul searching with colleagues and friends and everyone else, I really believe that the citizens of Abbotsford deserve to choose who they want sitting around the table that can dedicate 100% of their efforts towards that job."

He said he had been able to put that effort into the job while he served but that his new MLA duties, and the reconvening of the house, meant his time would be stretched too thin.

— By Tyler Olsen
COVID latest
BC has announced its COVID restart plan will come in 4 stages, the first of which is already underway. It allows for a modest increase in social interactions, as well as a return of in-person religious services and indoor dining. Stage 2 is expected to start as early as June 15 and allows for BC-wide recreational travel, as well as outdoor events like weddings of up to 50 people. Stage 3 could start July 1, and would see masks become recommended rather than mandated. Casinos and nightclubs could also open with limited capacity. Stage 4 could start by Sept. 7 and see normal social contact and a return of sports competitions. Moving through the stages depends on case counts, hospitalization rates, and vaccination rates.  [BCCDC COVID data]

Fraser Health
  • New cases: 289 /  366 average (down 25% from last week)
  • 301 hospitalizations (down 16% from last week)
  • 1 new death / 1,680 total
Around Town
🎺 Registration is open for the 2021 Jazz Education Workshop organized by the Odlum Brown Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival. High school and college musicians can register online.

🐻 WildSafeBC has launched a new 30-minute course to help people learn about bear safety. Register for free online.

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