Coquitlam commuters can expect significant traffic delays on Lougheed Highway over the next five to six months as the Scott Creek Bridge gets an extensive facelift.
Half the four-lane bridge – located directly south of the city centre, just past the railway overpass – is set to be closed during the $2.4 million project.
Coun. Craig Hodge said the work is going to cause a “major disruption.”
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“This is not an area where there’s an easy detour around it,” Hodge said. “Lougheed Highway is probably the busiest route other than Trans Canada Highway.”
Construction crews will spend the majority of the project jackhammering old concrete off the bridge’s surface before pouring a fresh layer and adding a pathway alongside the bridge.
One side of the bridge needs to be complete before crews can move to the opposite side.
“The bridge is about 48-years-old, and unfortunately, salt and time has penetrated the bridge deck,” said Jaime Boan, Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works. “To avoid damage penetrating down into the structure itself, we do need to replace it.”
Boan said that a five-to-six-month timeframe for the project is a conservative estimate.
The project may need to be extended if crews discover that damage has occurred to the bridge’s structure. However, it could be as short as four months, added Boan, “if everything goes really well.”
The city is negotiating with the contractor to try to extend the hours that construction crews will be able to work during the day.
“If we can get them to extend that to say 10 or 12 hours, that could definitely reduce the time,” Boan said. “There may be some little things that they can do at night.”
Night shifts for the crews were originally considered, but the noise would be too much of a nuisance for local residents, Boan said.
He noted that one advantage is that the bridge is 400 metres away from the closest traffic signal, which are typically choke points for traffic.
The city will be putting out news releases warning residents to look for other routes and to allow for more transit time.
Hodge said the city needs to try to have work done quickly and around the clock as much as possible.
He said when a major traffic route is taken out of commission, the congestion bleeds into other areas.
Westwood Street is going to become an “absolute nightmare,” Hodge predicted, along with Como Lake Avenue.
“This is not going to just be an impact to Lougheed,” Hodge said. “It’s a major route through to our only trauma hospital.”
Boan said staff expect Mariner Way to be significantly impacted as well. He noted the road work currently taking place on Mariner Way will be completed before the new construction begins this month.
The city has a traffic signal plan in place to try and optimize traffic flow.