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Friendship Trail Bridge closed to the public after briefly being open

Pemberton council briefs: Regional transit update

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While the Friendship Trail Bridge might look complete, it may still be a while before you can cross it.

The Village of Pemberton (VOP) recently erected fencing on both sides of the pedestrian bridge, which is located on the south side of the Lillooet River highway bridge.

"The Village is working closely with the SLRD (Squamish-Lillooet Regional District) to connect the bridge to the (Friendship Trail)," said a VOP spokesperson in an email to Pique, adding that the muncipality is in the process of completing the design for a transition.

"We hope to have the connection of the trail and the bridge completed very soon, as it will be an incredible asset to both communities."

The Village erected fencing on Friday, Nov. 2 following a special council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30, during which VOP Councillor Ted Craddock raised safety concerns about the fact that concrete barriers located at the end of the east side of the bridge appeared to direct pedestrian or bicycle traffic straight onto Highway 99 at a perpendicular angle.

"All the traffic flow goes straight onto the highway and it's dangerous," said Craddock, adding that he is worried about kids crossing on their bikes.

"You know they're going to ride one hundred miles an hour across that thing," he said. "I don't think it's safe for people to go across there."

In response, VOP Chief Administrative Officer Nikki Gilmore said that the ministry of transportation had also been in touch with the VOP regarding the situation and asked the VOP to fence up the bridge.

"We're trying to figure out how we're going to manage this," said Gilmore. "I've been asking the ministry of transportation, can we (put up) some barriers, can we do some alternatives?"

Gilmore said that the Village was exploring its options and had suggested signage or paint.

"We need to come up with some creative alternatives on how we manage (this)," she said.

Once complete, the transition will connect to the Friendship Trail, a seven-kilometre multi-use trail linking the communities of Pemberton and Mount Currie.

The trail will also eventually serve as a link between the larger Sea to Sky Trail project, a network undertaken in part by the SLRD that will be a 180-kilometre multi-use recreation trail linking the Pacific Ocean south of Squamish all the way to the community of D'Arcy.

In an Oct. 2 project update posted on its website, the SLRD said that the first phase of the Friendship Trail, between the Pemberton Valley Lodge and the Lillooet River, is now complete.

"The next stretch of trail from the Lillooet River to Pemberton Farm Road East is planned for construction this fall," reads the update.

"The remainder of the trail will use the existing road along the railway tracks; some improvements to this section are planned for spring 2019, including some fencing.

"An established walking path from the Pemberton Industrial Park to Mount Currie is already in use; the SLRD is looking to re-surface this section with gravel in the spring, once the necessary approvals have been secured from the Village of Pemberton and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure."

Transit update

During the Oct. 30 special council meeting, VOP Mayor Mike Richman gave an update on regional transit, sounding a hopeful message about getting busses on the road by September 2019.

"We feel that we have the ear of the provincial government right now," said Richman. "We also feel that they're looking at us as a bit of a pilot program. In other words, there are more communities around the province that are looking at regional transit (and) we're hoping to lead the way."

Richman said that there are a number of important deadlines to make before that happens.

"The goal is to get a commission request in (to the province) by Thursday (Nov. 1), and then follow up with some subsequent information (in advance of the provincial) budget," he said.

Gilmore reiterated that the province was supportive of advancing the project.

"The province and BC Transit have been advised to get this done, and put all energy into this," said Gilmore.

"The intention is to get busses on the road by September 2019 ... That's why it's such an aggressive timeline, because the commission needs to be formed before the (provincial) budget and also BC Transit needs to secure the busses, which will have their own design or look."

According to the VOP, the Thursday deadline was met, and the partners will continue to meet and should have more information for the public in December.

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