Traffic over five tonnes and under 54 tonnes between Mackenzie and the north end of Williston Lake and beyond is being redirected via the Germansen Landing/Oslinka route.
The bridge over the Omineca River at 173 km on the Finlay Forest Service Road (FSR) is only suitable for lighter traffic, and so heavier vehicles need to drive the 214 km detour through the Germansen Landing community.
Heavy traffic over 54 tonnes must make other plans for access to and from the area, as the bridge over the Omineca River at Germansen Landing is limited to less than 54 tonnes.
The road is narrow, winding and has low visibility through some parts, so the Mackenzie Forest District is advising users to drive accordingly.
Some grading and brushing work is being done now to help improve visibility along the road, as the road had not been used year-round or for larger traffic for many years, and had grown in. New signage has also been put up, with kilometre markers for the drivers with radios. Many drivers on the route do not have radios, and users should be aware of this.
The route, used heavily at this time of year by hunters and the usual local traffic through the Germansen community will now be sharing the road with grocery and fuel supply traffic for the First Nation communities of Tsay Key Dene and Kwadacha as well as some service and supply traffic for logging work and Kemess. But the season for Kemess is expected to be shutting down any time, and the logging will likely be done in the area within a month or so as well during freeze up, according to Mackenzie Forest District Manager Dave Francis.
Residents of the Germansen Landing area have been experiencing frustration with the situation. Engine breaks being used through the remote community, heavy traffic and concerns about the widening through the Discovery area, a wilderness road residents said was meant to be left alone have the community worried the rerouting will leave a lasting impact on an area they value for the wilderness setting.
Community members also expressed frustration no community meeting or dialogue was initiated with residents to express their concerns.
No time frame to fix the bridge is set yet, but work is currently underway for design and contract specifications to be laid out for the repair.
The goal is to have the bridge into a usable state for full use by the end of the calendar year, but with many factors at play, the entire job is very tentative and subject to a number of factors. So far, rough estimates put the cost of the bridge at around $500,000.
When construction does take place, there will be between one and two months when the bridge will be closed completely to all traffic.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on route changes and bridge closures, go to: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/DMK/