Bob Zimmer: Taylor Bridge fix should be top priority in economic recovery

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Those of us that travel across Taylor Bridge know how important it is to our local and regional economy. Since 1960, it has been vital in connecting the North Peace and South Peace for residents, businesses, and tourists travelling in the region. Last night, I crossed the bridge and there were crews out making repairs, causing traffic to be restricted to one lane. While I am thankful to the crews working to ensure the bridge is workable, it also highlights the need to replace it.

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Like many other provinces, British Columbia recently unveiled its restart plans outlining the ways that the province will slowly and carefully lift the protective measures and restrictions that have been put in place due to COVID-19. The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister for Communities and Infrastructure, has also said that the federal government is looking for ‘shovel-ready’ projects to fund once restrictions are lifted.

While we all know we aren’t out of the woods yet, there is a reason for cautious optimism and I believe now is the time that we should begin thinking about what infrastructure projects in our region could help our local economy recover and thrive. For me, one of the projects that I believe should be at the top of the list is replacing the old Taylor Bridge.

This is an integral section of the Alaska Highway and millions of dollars of commercial goods and approximately 7,5000 vehicles normally cross this bridge every day. Replacing this bridge now will no doubt have a long-term positive impact on our economy and our communities.

In November, the Honourable Claire Trevena, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, announced that her ministry would be undertaking in-field geotechnical, hydrotechnical and environmental investigations to help further prepare options for the Taylor Bridge. First Nations consultations and public engagement sessions were also scheduled to take place this spring.

That timeline was of course announced before we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. Even so, I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure this project is ‘shovel-ready’ so that our region can not only benefit from these infrastructure dollars but also finally have a bridge that best serves our region now and into the future.

I also want to hear from you. What ‘shovel-ready’ projects do you believe should be a part of this infrastructure funding conversation? Let me know at Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Bob Zimmer is Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.

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