Kamloops council wants city staff involved in TRU overpass study

TRU wants to study overpass

Kamloops city council wants staff to be involved in a study commissioned by Thompson Rivers University to investigate locations for a proposed overpass spanning Summit Drive — a study TRU’s president says is needed for the institution to have confidence the $10-million bridge will be well used.

TRU President Brett Fairbairn appeared before council during Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the university’s perspective on the project, the cost of which is intended to be split equally between TRU and the city.

“We know that we have, as you have, a fiduciary responsibility to ensure due diligence on major investments," he said.

"At this time, based on the information we've got, we lack the confidence that enough research has been done."

Fairbairn’s presentation comes a couple of weeks after council members expressed frustration that the bridge location was still being debated, with city staff saying two engineering studies — undertaken in 2012 and 2022 — recommended the same location for the span out of three possibilities.

At the time, council voted to send a letter to TRU asking for more information about the study, and advising the university it wasn’t interested in changing the location of the bridge span.

The city committed $5 million to the project last year on the understanding that the project was shovel-ready.

TRU wants to get it right, city told

On Tuesday, Fairbairn asked council to allow the university the opportunity to finish one final study about the bridge location, which is intended to be complete in April.

He said there were concerns the 2012 study was outdated, preceding housing developments on either side of Summit Drive and not taking future development into consideration.

Fairbairn said TRU was most concerned about ensuring the safety of students, staff and members of the public who travel to the university daily, adding the Summit Drive and McGill Road intersection was one of the most crash-prone in the city.

“The proposed multi-use overpass will separate pedestrians and cyclists from vehicle traffic helping to safeguard all users. But that safety promise only becomes real if the structure is actually used by the vast majority of cyclists and pedestrians who move through the area,” Fairbairn said.

“If we build it in the wrong location, it will greatly reduce the safety impact.”

City wants to work with university

Marvin Kwiatkowski, the city’s development, engineering and sustainability director, told council that city staff weren’t sure what kind of information was missing from the 2012 or 2022 studies, noting the information regarding growth was included.

He said staff heard in January that the university had commissioned a consultant, and the city hasn’t been involved in the terms of reference for the study.

Kamloops council voted to send another letter to TRU, thanking them for presenting at Tuesday’s meeting and asking that city staff and university administration work collaboratively on the overpass project. The letter will further ask that city staff be a part of the ongoing study.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson tried to get council to reconsider the decision it made on Feb. 6 to send a letter to TRU, asking for more context around the study and saying it wasn’t interested in changing the overpass location.

Councillors rejected the mayor's proposal, noting the letter had been sent and had already been answered by way of Fairbairn’s Tuesday presentation.

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