Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Omand's Creek Bridge

The two pictures below were shot on Saturday, March 27.  The  water is ice covered and about 6 inches over the surface of the bridge. Last weekend the bridge was just barely above water.  Fisher Hill is just to the left of the bridge and Toboggan Hill lies just to the right.  The trail approaches the bridge in a pleasing  switchback and visually compliments the lay of the land.  The present design is easy on the eyes and minimizes the environmental footprint.  The annual flooding is little more than a nuisance, an inconvenience, so why build a new bridge?  


We need a new bridge because the present design does not meet minimum standards of accessibility.  We measure the advancement of society by how well we treat the weakest and most vulnerable around us.  If the present design is accessible to only 60% of society, than we have achieved a 60% success rate; hardly a standard of excellence.  If a new bridge increases accessibility to 90% or higher, than we are that much more civilized, that much more caring, that much more humane of a society.


We need a new bridge because the present one is inaccessible to those with mobility issues. The approach is too steep for the elderly and for those in wheelchairs.  Even if a wheelchair could make it to the base of the bridge those damn poles on both ends of the bridge would block access!  When we make Global Design changes to improve access for a few, society as a whole benefits.  The elderly, the sick, the weak, the parents with strollers, the children with training wheels, the tired, the young, the obese... we all benefit and we become a stronger society.  Some say that there should be limitations to accessibility.  Some say wheelchair access is a nobel goal, but only to a certain point. Try telling that to a parent of a child chained to a wheel chair.  Look them in the eye and say Your child has rights, but they are different than mine.  


We have an opportunity to make our community better.  We need a new bridge not because the present one floods out every other year.  We need a new bridge because the present one does not represent an inclusive society.  It rejects a large percentage of the population as insignificant.  It is not accessible to 100% of our citizens and for this reason, it is wrong to do nothing.  We can do better. 



The picture below was taken on Sunday, one day after the above two pictures.  The bridge is completely flooded, only the post is sticking out.  The water will continue to rise for another week and then at least another three weeks for the water level to return below the bridge deck.  And then.... the mud!  

                        
In deciding which bridge is right for the neighbourhood the following are some of the key points that were considered at the open house:
  • Universal Design:  Does the plan meet accessibility standards such as a maximum 5% path slope?
  • Tree Protection:  Does the plan maximize the protection of the trees in the final design and construction?
  • Existing Park Use:  Does the plan protect the existing park use including tobogganing?
  • Flood Protection:  Does the bridge met 1:100 year flood standards?  
  • Bridge Integrity:  Does the plan protect the long term integrity of the bridge? Does the plan provide sufficient deck width for snow clearing and mitigation of slip hazards in spring and winter?


There were originally 5 designs being considered.  At this point they've all been rejected.  There is a new "secret" proposal being discussed,  but I'm not aware of the details.

                                  
Option A:  At-grade bridge south of the park.

         
Option B: Angled bridge from street to river.

Option C:  At-grade bridge central to the park.

                                              
Option D:  Park upgrades.

Option E:  Upgrades to existing bridge.
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