Province funds $9.6+ million rebuild of Merritt bridge damaged during atmospheric river
June 26, 2023
MERRITT – The Middlesboro Bridge, a vital transportation artery in Merritt that was heavily damaged by floodwaters, will be rebuilt to a higher standard to make it more resilient to future flooding events and be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Middlesboro Bridge, which connects downtown Merritt to the Collettville neighbourhood along Voght Street, partially collapsed during the November 2021 atmospheric river when the Coldwater River overflowed its banks.
The Province is providing $9.6 million to the City of Merritt to rebuild the bridge, plus additional funds to build it back better.
“Merritt was severely impacted by the flooding events of November 2021,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “We know that climate change will continue to accelerate and river flooding will likely become more frequent as a result. That’s why it’s imperative that we act now to shore up important infrastructure and reduce the risk of future disasters like the one endured by the people of Merritt.”
The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness is contributing additional funds (amount to be determined) from its Disaster Financial Assistance program to build back better, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is providing $9.6 million.
Preliminary engineering is complete and a procurement process is underway. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2024 and be complete in early 2025.
“Economic resilience is a priority for us, and we know that investing in infrastructure is key to helping communities rebuild and thrive,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “The Middlesboro Bridge project is one more example of how were working with local governments to meet the unique needs of their communities in order to build back stronger.”
The new span will be approximately 1.5 metres higher than the original structure and built to withstand a one-in-200-year flood event. It will increase the water volume by 65% compared to the original bridge and is proposed to accommodate two lanes of vehicle traffic and one lane dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists. The original bridge had an undersized walkway and no cycling lane or shoulder.
“Recovering from a natural disaster is a long process of damage assessments, funding applications, design development and requests for proposals long before any construction can commence,” said Michael Goetz, mayor, City of Merritt. “While the City has been able to make a number of major repairs, seeing the scar of the missing Middlesboro Bridge has been a painful daily reminder of that harrowing event. I’d like to thank the Province for providing the funding to repair this important transportation link, which will not only ease transportation routes for our residents, but also revive our commercial corridors.”
The Middlesboro Bridge reconstruction is one of several flood mitigation and restoration projects being funded by the Province for the City of Merritt, including rebuilding dikes and banks along the Coldwater River, road repairs, park restorations, water well restoration and a new running track.
About $12.2 million in Disaster Financial Assistance funding from the Province has already been approved for the City of Merritt since the floods of 2021, which were the most expensive natural disaster in B.C.’s history with catastrophic impacts to communities, the economy and critical infrastructure.
Additionally, the City of Merritt has been approved for more than $3.2 million from the Province’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for flood-mitigation planning and infrastructure projects.
In October 2022, the City of Merritt submitted an application for funding for the replacement of the Middlesboro Bridge on Voght Street. The application included conceptual engineering to provide a cost estimate to replace the bridge with a structure that would be high enough to withstand future high water events. This proposed design is only for the purpose of funding applications. With this new funding, RFPs will be issued for work on the design and construction of the new bridge.
In November 2021, the City of Merritt was impacted by an unprecedented flood caused by a combination of a severe atmospheric river and melting snow pack, raising water levels several meters in a matter of hours. The following day, the Middlesboro Bridge on Voght Street collapsed as much of the supporting lands were washed away, cutting off easy access from Collettville to downtown Merritt. While residents still have access to downtown amenities via the Houston Street Bridge and Main Street Bridge, the Middlesboro Bridge remains a vital transportation link. LEARN MORE ABOUT FLOOD REPAIR + RECOVERY.