Princeton’s iconic brown bridge – one of the only wooden bridges still used in the province – occassioned much conversation this past fall as significant repairs were made to the decking.
The bridge was closed for several weeks and that gave residents with nothing better to complain about something to fume on.
Observations were made about the work, the wood, the rails.
It took longer than the work’s department originally thought.
Some Facebook users even took to commenting on when they did and did not see town employees on site.
But the real meaty bridge discussions were about the structure’s past, its functionality and its future.
There seemed to be two very different schools of thought.
It was as if half the town loved the bridge for its history and for the way it just “says” Princeton.
And the other half expressed the idea that a single lane wooden bridge that is difficult to maintain and has to be repaired frequently has no place in 2018 no matter how many great memories it inspires.
At a council meeting last month observers were reminded that changes for the bridge are a real possibility.
A letter in the council package from the Minister of Transportation reviewed a discussion that took place with council at the 2017 UBCM conference and stated ministry staff would be contacting the town to follow up on its request for funding for a bridge assessment. A meeting is to be arranged.
The bridge may be “assessed.”
Clearly there are drawbacks to the design and capacity of the bridge.
It is not large enough to support some emergency vehicles, for example.
Because it is one lane it can be confusing for visitors who don’t know the local protocols that govern “whose turn is it to go next?”
(That’s something even people who have lived here all their lives forget from time to time, come to think of it.)
But it’s darned cute.
The bridge is an important part of town infrastructure but it’s also a pretty emotional way to cross the Tulameen River.
If the bridge has a future, and that’s going to be assessed, it’s going to be important for residents to make their feelings known, and for them to be informed about whatever progress is being made.
The bridge has the potential to be a hot button issue. And it really does “say” Princeton.
Keep your eyes on this one, and look for your opportunities to share your thoughts.
We don’t need this discussion to be over troubled waters.