The new pedestrian and cycling bridge on Salton Road was formally opened last Wednesday, Jan. 23. The bridge connects UFV on the south side of Highway 1 to the strip mall on the north side, and provides a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists commuting to UFV who previously had to cross the bridge at McCallum over Highway 1.
Construction on the project began in November 2017 and was completed in late December 2018. It cost $5.67 million to build, slightly over the $3.9 million estimated early in construction. Funding for the bridge included a $1 million grant from the province’s BikeBC program as well as $3.3 million in funding from the Federal Gas Tax Fund.
The opening was well attended by students and locals. The Abbotsford Integrated School of Arts (ASIA) school band as well as the mascot of the Fraser Valley Bandits basketball team and a local dance troupe performed live music and dance on the bridge before speeches were given. Various government officials were in attendance, as well as UFV vice-president external Craig Toews and UFV president and vice-chancellor Joanne MacLean, and gave speeches explaining how the bridge was funded by both provincial and federal grants, the meaning of the bridge to the community, and the future of the UDistrict development program.
“Essential to a vibrant, connected community, this important link will connect the university community to services and amenities on the north side of the freeway,” MacLean said.
The bridge makes it easier and faster to get food off campus between classes because of the strip mall on the north side of the highway, especially for students who rely on public transit and cannot drive off campus to wherever they want to eat.
The bridge has public art installed across the 77 metre span on both sides. Artist Brian Bukowski was chosen through a juried submission process to install his work The Hop Across. The work features recycled bicycle wheels, both with spokes and stripped down to the skeleton, in a wavy, bouncy line which inspires the flow of movement. The art was designed specifically to work with the predetermined structure of the bridge, and is interesting to the viewer both from far away as drivers pass the bridge and see the line and form, and from close up as pedestrians and cyclists cross it and are able to see the fine details.
Bukowski usually makes finely detailed works, but said he felt that the bridge itself had a great design and did not want to overshadow the proposed structure.
Abbotsford is the 22nd least-walkable city out of the 69 largest cities in British Columbia according to Walk Score. Before the bridge was built, students walking to school who lived on the north side of the highway had to cross off- and on-ramps from the highway over two roundabouts to get to the university.
“The new bridge will provide a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to cross Highway 1, and encourage people to stay active,” MP Jati Sidhu said.
Image: Beru Bell/The Cascade