November 28, 2017 10:11 pm

Nearly 7 months after it was washed out, province fixing north Okanagan bridge

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It could be a Christmas gift for north Okanagan commuters, but it’s been a long time in coming.

For almost seven months, people driving through the Salmon River Valley have had to take a long detour after a bridge was washed out last spring.

In early May, flood waters eroded the banks of the Salmon River and washed out part of the bridge.

After months with no repairs, construction is beginning to fix the bridge on Heywood Armstrong Road and to add an extra span to prevent another washout in the future.

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The repairs couldn’t come soon enough for the local elected representative.

“I hear from the residents on a regular basis, ‘Why isn’t that bridge replaced?’ After seven months, I’m kind of wondering why it took so long too,” said Columbia Shuswap Regional District area director Rene Talbot.

READ MORE: North Okanagan drivers frustrated over damaged bridge that’s gone months without repairs

The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said it took months for repairs to begin mostly because of the engineering requirements of the project. The ministry is still playing catchup after this year’s flood.

“We apologize for how long this has taken but we’ve had 152 damage sites in our district. We’ve got 80 per cent of those done but we’ve got quite a ways to go still,” said the ministries district manager for the Okanagan and Shuswap, Jack Bennetto.

On Wednesday, crews are expected to start taking out a damaged span and Talbot will be watching.

“I’m going to stay on them until we get a bridge back,” Talbot said.

The province is hoping to bring commuters a Christmas gift and have construction on the bridge done by December 25.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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