The Cultus Creek Bridge is on the Columbia Valley Highway, about three kilometers south of Vedder Mountain Road in Chilliwack.
With a paved surface and wooden sidewalks supported by wooden piers, it’s like a lot of our other bridges throughout the province. But there are some things that set this one apart.
For one, it’s the main public access for people headed to Cultus Lake, a great area for swimming, hiking and camping.
It also crosses Sweltzer Creek an important salmon bearing stream for such species as the Cultus Lake sockeye salmon, so we’ve got to be very careful not to disturb the water or the surrounding environment when we work in the area. That can be a challenge, especially when we need to bring in crews and heavy equipment to work on and under the bridge, like we’ll be doing this fall.
That’s when we’re planning on resurfacing the bridge and repairing some of its supports, and when we do, we’ll be working closely with staff from federal and provincial fisheries and environmental agencies to make sure we minimize any impact we may have on the environment.
One of the ways we’ll be doing that is to build a temporary platform below the bridge, letting us work on its supports without disturbing the water. The platform will be built above the high-water mark, and it’ll have a four-metre gap so people using the creek for recreation will still be able to cross under the bridge.
Any machines that go near the water will have to be cleaned of any excess dirt, oil or grease that could potentially pollute the water. Also, if any grass or plants are damaged as a result of the project, we’ll be reseeding the soil to prevent erosion and help return the environment back the way it was before we started.
Work will be timed to minimize any impact on returning salmon, and the entire project should be finished before winter. And we’re not just concerned about the fish; we’ll be working to minimize impact on travelers as well by keeping traffic moving across the bridge while the project progresses.
When all is said and done, the old timber sidewalks will be replaced with concrete, the railings will be upgraded, and the entire bridge surface will be much improved.
It’s a project that shows when it comes to safety, drivers may be our main focus, but they’re by no means our only one. We’ve got you in mind, whether you’ve got limbs or fins!