Damage of Kispiox Bridge closes off small community in northern BC

A bridge at night with trouble lights on as engineers and workers assess the damage.
Photo courtesy of the BV Lakes District Twitter.
Pamela Haasen - CICK - SmithersBC | 09-02-2021

A snow plow drove over the the Kispiox Bridge and damaged  the timber structural beams when the driver failed to retract the wing blade completely last week.

The incident happened at 8:40 a.m. on Feb 4. The bridge, which crosses the Kispiox River just before the confluence of the Kispiox and Skeena rivers, is located approximately 15 kms north of Hazelton.

Kispiox is a community of around 1,000 people and many of them work outside of the community, using the Kispiox Bridge to get to their jobs in Smithers, Telkwa, Witset or Houston.

One woman, a resident of Kispiox Valley was in her car behind the plow and stopped to take photos of the damage, noting the plow did not stop, or perhaps didn't notice the damage they had caused.

"There is not an easy detour, as you'd have to use backroads coming from the Alaska Highway", as River Brady, Kispiox resident mentions in an interview with CICK. "A friend calculated it, and to use the [only detour available to Kispiox residents] it would be a four and a half hour detour."

There has been a long history of contention between the residents of the valley and the road maintenance company, Dawson Road Maintenance.

Complaints have been sent to the Ministry of Transport regarding poor driving conditions on already difficult winter roads, but residents have been vocal that Dawson Road Maintenance is not up to the job, posting photos of fallen trees left on the road for days, uneven grated roads and enormous potholes.

The residents say they are fed up — this most recent incident had residents stranded in (or out) of Kispiox for two days, then open to light vehicles, and finally now the bridge has been opened to vehicles under eight tonnes to cross.

Then, last night (Feb. 8 at around 9 p.m.), another update came from the Kispiox Band Council Facebook page: A backslide occurred on the 23rd km on Mittin Road, which means, once again, the community is difficult to access.

CICK News spoke with a representative from Dawson Road Maintenance about what happened last Thursday as well as River Brady who is fed up with these road conditions.

The Ministry of Transport did not grant CICK's interview request but sent a document with updated road conditions.

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