A new foot bridge at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort should ensure there’s a flood-proof means of access between the resort’s main grounds and its recreational vehicle (RV) park.
The 190-foot (58-metre) steel truss bridge was set in place with the help of two giant Mammoet crane trucks on Thursday, August 22nd, and is expected to be ready for foot traffic by Friday (August 30th) or Saturday. After assembling the three pieces into a single span, about a dozen workers secured the bridge into its footings at 11 a.m.
With an inside width of 10 feet (three metres) and a weight of just under 100,000 pounds (45,360 kilograms), the bridge is wide and sturdy enough to drive golf carts and even vehicles across, though under normal circumstances it will be for walkers only.
“In case an ambulance has to go across, the bridge can take it,” commented Fairmont Hot Springs Resort chief financial officer Pascal van Dijk. “It was a small creek before, and now it’s a wide canyon covered by a single-span bridge.”
The bridge is made of weathering steel, “which takes on a beautiful natural patina and acts as the final finish on the bridge,” explained Fairmont Hot Springs Resort marketing manager Colleen McKee. The resort’s insurance covered most of the costs associated with putting the new bridge in place.
The new structure replaces a foot bridge that was deemed unsafe after mudslide debris clobbered the bridge’s pilings last summer, causing it to lean. The torrent not only scoured out the channel of Fairmont Creek, creating a much wider crossing for the new bridge to span, but trapped many recreational vehicle (RV) campers on the south side of the waterway.
With 244 RV sites, including several designated for the largest RVS in use, Fairmont’s park is one of largest RV parks in the Rockies, and on busy weekends can be home to more than 800 people.
To frequent visitors Ray and Carol Williams from Redcliff, Alberta, the new bridge means “a lot less walking to get to the pool.”
When they spoke to The Valley Echo last Thursday, the couple was on their sixth visit to the RV park, and their first since arriving in the aftermath of the mudslide last summer. They recalled hearing of people having to be evacuated by helicopter after suffering medical distress, and being unable to be moved by ambulance.
The new bridge looks “much sturdier than the old bridge,” said Williams, adding “stuff can go underneath it now and it won’t interfere at all.”
“Hopefully it pays for itself; they were dealt a pretty rough hand here last ear, and they’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” he said.
The bridge’s three separate spans were made in Ontario, driven out on trucks, and arrived in Invermere two days before the bridge was assembled.
Two pieces of the bridge were assembled before the lift, with the third piece put on while the structure was hanging.