Although, officially named the Kawkawa Lake Road Bridge, the Howe truss structure that has spanned the Coquihalla River for 50 years in Hope, has a persona of its own – thanks to Sylvester Stallone and the filming of First Blood over 25 years ago.
Now commonly referred to as the Rambo Bridge, the span does entice visitors to stay a little longer in our community. In the summer, drivers occasionally dodge film enthusiasts at the narrow entrance, while a fan or two strains grab a quick snap shot of the spot where John Rambo was tossed ‘outta’ town by the sheriff.
A recent question posted on Facebook, asking friends to wade in on the discussion of saving the bridge, garnered a variety of local responses. The option to keep it as a walking bridge took top spot. The tongue in cheek option to “Blow it up – Rambo style” was a close second.
Now, with the completion of a new bridge, the day of reckoning for the Rambo Bridge nears, but is it worth saving? Remember at this point it is your dime.
If the creosote-encased structure is kept as a novelty and not a necessity and should it fail in a future flood, damage to the CN Bridge and clean-up costs may just be levied against by the district and their understandably skittish municipal insurance agency.
On the other hand, the cost of raising the bridge to a safe level would be costly, and then there is the replacement of the rust-weary tie-rods that hold the structure together.
Removing the structure and erecting it as a photo-op was another well supported Facebook option. But does the cost of replicating the movie set outweigh the economic tourism benefit of the small fan base that actually makes it into the community? And, as pointed out by Councillor Donna Pleadwell at the last council meeting, will the visitor attraction, possibly costing $100,000 to do it right, become a burden to the taxpayer in 20 years and follow in the footsteps of the liability-risking mining display that we just demolished?
No economically solid proposals have been fielded, by supporters, private business, or community groups, to save the bridge or relocate even parts of it as a permanent display.
The fate of the bridge looks sealed. Council simply does not have the stomach to ask our stretched-to-the-limit taxpayers to take the risk or bear the costs alone… and nor should they.