THUNDER BAY – A multi-use pedestrian bridge that could help connect a cycling corridor between the city’s north and south cores is in the early planning stages.
An environmental assessment is underway for a span across the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway, which would allow users to cross the waterway where Carrick and Vickers streets each hit dead ends.
Adam Krupper, the city’s mobility coordinator, said a bridge in that location would address a need that has been identified.
“The cycling community is really looking for a north-south route. We know that Memorial Avenue is a pretty intense road to ride on and Fort William Road is even more so,” Krupper said on Friday.
“What’s really great about Carrick-Vickers is that there is fewer traffic lights and hardly any traffic. It’s quick to implement. It’s easy. The challenge is getting across this floodway.”
Cycling advocates have lobbied for a Memorial Link, a five-kilometre route that would protect and separate users from vehicular traffic on the arterial roadway.
The city had secured more than $900,000 from the province through the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, which carries a requirement of at least 20 per cent matching funds from the municipality. A list of 26 potential projects had been submitted, which included new multi-use trails or new pedestrian crossovers.
Krupper said early estimates indicate the project cost could range from $1.2 million to $1.4 million.
“This bridge, if we can make it happen, would be a once in a lifetime project,” Krupper said. “We could have spent that $900,000 on five or six small projects but what will have the longest lasting impact in 20 years? That’s why we chose this project.”
The bridge is being considered in an area of the river between Memorial Avenue and Balmoral Street, near the existing CN Rail bridge. Pedestrian crossing of that privately-owned span is illegal and could lead to a fine for trespassing.
Krupper said the planning that’s being currently undertaken will help determine the exact location of the bridge.
“There could be an option that’s really cheap but doesn’t work. There could be a perfect option that’s just too expensive,” Krupper said. “These are the things we need to weigh throughout this process.”
A public consultation session, where identified options would be presented, will likely take place in late August or early September, Krupper added.
Meanwhile, construction of a new pedestrian bridge on Confederation College is progressing as the steel pilings have been installed with concrete foundations on track to be poured soon. Once that’s done, the bridge structure can be installed.
“We’re expecting that to happen in September and then we’re going to do the asphalt trail connections and it should be complete by November,” Krupper said. “It’s coming along quite well.”