The Coldwater River was the culprit in the November 2021 floods in Merritt. What’s considered to be a month’s worth of rain poured onto the river in a matter of days causing it to overflow.
Scientists have coined a term for this natural phenomenon, ‘atmospheric river’.
Along with the millions of dollars worth in damages to properties, the event also caused damage to city infrastructures that now need repairs.
The Middlesboro bridge which connects downtown to Collettville was one of the infrastructures most heavily damaged by the flood.
Half of the bridge collapsed sometime during the flood and the collapsed span had been left there since closing the pathway to traffic indefinitely.
Early this month, the collapsed span of the bridge was removed by contractors along with the concrete base of the span.
“We knew for sure that we weren’t going to be using the collapsed span and the failed abutment so we removed those,” said Darcey Hormann, Operations Section Chief for the City of Merritt.
As of March 14, contractors have started to work on stabilizing the embankment surrounding the bridge that was heavily eroded due to the flood. While this is going on, the bridge is being assessed to figure out what is the best way to move forward with rebuilding it.
Right now the city is looking at two possibilities on how to move forward with the bridge.
If the remaining span is deemed to be structurally sound, then the city will only have to rebuild the collapsed span.
If, on the other hand, assessments lead to the conclusion that the remaining span is not strong enough, then the city will tear the remaining span and rebuild the entire bridge.
“The information will come to the province for whatever happens next,” said Greg Solecki, Recovery Manager for the City of Merritt.
“On one hand, it would have been nice to complete it earlier, but depending upon what the province finds in the engineering in terms of a better construction for the bridge that’s left there, then maybe they’ll have to remove it which takes longer.”
The provincial government will be funding the project to reconstruct the Middlesboro Bridge.
“There’s a number of dependencies including what the design of the river channel would be through Merritt,” Hormann explained.
“Whether there will be bed load removal or dredging, whether there’s banks or new dikes that are built or setbacks, we will not know until May or June.”
Hormann added that there are a few considerations for the design of the bridge such as “lane widths,” “side walk separation,” and “multi use pathways which ties into the act of transportation quarter that is planned for the south side of the river.”
After the preliminary options analysis, which Hormann expects to be done mid-year, Designs for the new bridge will be planned in the latter half of the year.