Last weekend, BC Parks was forced to partially close Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.
A rock slide seriously undermined a concrete bridge abutment that supports one of the trestle bridges, leaving a big chunk of its base unsupported.
The river had slowly undermined a giant boulder that was supporting the concrete, causing the boulder to slip into the river, taking a bunch of other supporting rock with it.
Note that visitors can still visit the tunnels from either end, but they cannot presently walk over the upstream trestle in either direction.
The safety concern is very real, and the timing of the collapse is very frustrating, given that it’s the most popular visitor attraction near Hope.
BC Parks spent considerable funds this spring making the canyon safe by removing loose rock. Also, the bridge in question just received an attractive new railing built by local carpenter Ian Koch.
There will be considerable costs involved with fixing the concrete footing of the bridge, and BC Parks may find it difficult to pay for the necessary repairs.
I think the community of Hope will need to send a strong message to provincial and federal politicians, stressing the importance of the Othello Tunnels.
A special fundraising drive may be needed to save it, as we saw with the Myra Canyon trestles near Kelowna.
The annual visitation to Othello Tunnels is huge and a key aspect of Hope’s identity and economy. We can’t afford to loose this heritage asset.