I want to start by thanking you, the residents of Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, for entrusting me with a fourth term to once again represent you in the House of Commons. From day one, I have wanted to make a positive difference both locally and nationally and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to continue to work hard on your behalf.
Part of that work is making sure your voices are heard when it comes to vital infrastructure projects for our region, including replacing Taylor Bridge.
As we here in Northeastern B.C. know, this bridge is vital in connecting North Peace and South Peace for residents, businesses, and tourists travelling in the region. Millions of dollars in commercial goods and approximately 7,500 vehicles cross this bridge every day.
The bridge has also fallen into disrepair, as you know, and needs to be replaced. I continue to hear from many of you who believe, as I do, that replacing it with a new four-lane bridge will have a long-term positive impact on our economy and our communities.
The Government of B.C. recently held the first of two virtual opening houses to discuss the Taylor Bridge project and for the public to provide input. I was pleased to be able to attend so that I could try to get answers to some of the many questions residents have had regarding the future of the bridge, as well as to reiterate the importance of replacing it to the region.
I asked what is the timeline to complete the new bridge and was told that it would take approximately two years to get to the building stage. I then asked how long would the current bridge be sustainable? The response was that it could last 30 years but at a significant cost and reliability would be uncertain. Further it was added that a new bridge would take approximately five to six years to complete and that would depend on whether there would be funds set aside to do so.
You can have your voices heard also as the second virtual open house takes place Thursday, October 21 at 6:30 p.m. (PST). I encourage all residents who are interested in the future of Taylor Bridge to take part and to have your voice heard.
You can register for this event, or simply pass along your thoughts on what you think the bridge should be by visiting: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/taylorbridge/. The province is accepting feedback from the public until November 15.
I believe we must do everything we can to ensure the success of this project so that Northeastern BC has a bridge that will improve road safety in our region now and into the future. Being a part of the process and providing the province with your valuable opinions is an important step in making that happen.
Bob Zimmer is Member of Parliament of Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.