It's just a simple wooden bridge across the Brunette Creek, but its closure could become a major divide for Coquitlam and New Westminster.
The single-lane Bailey bridge that connects United Boulevard in Coquitlam to Braid Street in New Westminster was shut down Sunday, and could remain closed for at least a week.
Though its closure is a headache for commuters and truck traffic along the stretch of road, it also appears to have ignited another clash between the two municipalities.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the bridge needs to be replaced immediately with another temporary structure and his city is prepared to carry out the work.
He said it would take a week for a new temporary bridge to be in place and for traffic to flow again. But the mayor also called on the two cities to come up with a plan to build a permanent structure.
"This is what happens when you try and take a temporary piece of infrastructure and make it permanent," Stewart told The NOW.
"This is an inherited mess and we've presented several solutions so far to New Westminster and we're prepared to find a solution, but in order for that to happen New Westminster has to be prepared to accept one as well."
The bridge was shut down following an assessment ordered by the City of Coquitlam.
Stewart suggested the assessment was ordered after New Westminster unilaterally lowered the load limit on the structure.
He said the assessment found "significant structural defects" in the bridge.
Crews were out on Tuesday to further examine the crossing.
The bridge has been a contentious issue between the two cities for years.
Currently, the bridge sits inside New Westminster's boundaries and is maintained by that city, but both municipalities split the cost in half. The Bailey bridge was first put in place in 1995, but was shut temporarily in 2002 by the City of New Westminster.
But after the City of Coquitlam took the municipality to court, a judge ordered the bridge reopened.
Stewart noted there was a proposal on the table with federal dollars to build a new four-lane bridge with an overpass for the train tracks, but New Westminster quashed the plan.
And the mayor also brought the proposed plan to build a new Royal Columbian Hospital into the discussion.
"If New Westminster wants Royal Columbian Hospital rebuilt, as a regional hospital, a truly regional hospital has good access to it and right now you can't get to Royal Columbian Hospital," he said.
Stewart estimated a permanent fix for the bridge could cost up to $10 million.
Speaking to The Record, New Westminster Coun. Betty McIntosh said she recognizes the bridge serves the industrial properties in the area, but wonders about the need for it.
"It was Coquitlam that demanded it be open," she said. "Coquitlam does nothing to help finance it."
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