Who built the bridge?
The project has been structured as a Private Public Partnership. In June of 2005, SNC Lavalin Inc. signed a Concession Agreement with the Ministry of Transportation on behalf of the Province of British Columbia. The 30 year agreement includes a 3 year construction period and a 27 year operations and maintenance period. The bridge was designed by Buckland & Taylor, built by a joint venture of SNC Lavalin Inc. and Vancouver Pile Driving and is operated and maintained by Protrans WRB Bridge.
What is the life expectancy of the new bridge?
The WRB Bridge was designed for a 75 year lifespan. However, this is just a parameter used during the design process for environmental effects and materials performance. If properly maintained, the bridge could last much longer.
Does the bridge move when the lake level increases/decreases?
The bridge has a floating section and a fixed section. The floating section will raise and fall with the lake movements (1 metre) while the fixed section will stay in place. To accomodate this movement the bridge has two transition sections (one at each end) which will allow the pontoons to rise and fall without any noticeable effects to the traffic.
How does the bridge float?
The bridge pontoons are made of concrete, which is heavier than water, but they are hollow. The weight of the concrete is less than the weight of the water that the pontoons displace, hence they not only float but they can take the weight of traffic and pedestrians without sinking. Think of the structure not as a bridge but as a ship.
Will I feel the bridge move?
Although the bridge will move when traffic crosses it, it will not be noticeable. The bridge is secured to the bottom of the lake with twelve anchors on either side which hold it steady.
Why was the bridge designed to be so high?
The bridge bisects the Okanagan Lake so it was necessary to provide a navigation channel to allow boats to cross underneath. The old Okanagan Bridge had a lift span which opened at regular intervals, but it disrupted and delayed traffic. The new bridge will allow marine traffic without interference.
What is the slope percentage of the bridge?
The maximum slope of the bridge is a 6% grade (both up and down).
Why a floating bridge?
Okanagan Lake is very deep and it has very poor soil conditions. There are other types of bridges that could have been used, such as suspension arch or cable stayed bridges, however the foundation those structures require would have been extremely costly and difficult.
Will the bridge sink if there is a breach on one of the pontoon walls?
No. The pontoons have been designed with internal watertight compartments. So, in the unlikely event of one of the walls breaking, water will only flood one of those compartments and the bridge will remain operational.