BY RUSSELL HIXSON - Visitors to Cascade Falls regional park will soon get front row seats to the falls and creek when a challenging construction project is completed.
The project includes the 120-foot wire rope suspension bridge for walking and a cantilevered viewing platform.
Workers also are replacing two older timber bridges, upgrading stairs, adding timber information kiosks and a family picnic shelter.
"The challenge was how do we get across this creek safety and how do we get all the materials across," said Daryl Taylor, an engineer with Celtic Engineering, one the companies working on the project.
One crossing option downstream was not dependable due to high water flows.
Using helicopters was also explored, but wasn't practical either.
Instead, the team used a 220-foot system of ladders and wire ropes to get materials and men to the other side.
The materials moved included 4,000 pounds of concrete and a 900 pound bridge tower.
Another challenge was working around the large crowds of people visiting the park and making sure the public presence didn't affect the construction.
Taylor said Celtic specializes in building bridges and recently completed two large suspension bridges in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.
On that project, the firm partnered with Omega Engineering.
Based on their experience working together, the two decided to pair up again on the Cascade Falls project.
They managed to beat out several larger companies to get the contract.
"There's nice synergy between the guys," said Taylor.
He said the new suspension bridge should be an excellent portfolio piece for the companies once completed.
Cascade Falls Regional Park is a 22 hectare park located just northeast of Mission, B.C.
The park's centrepiece is Cascade Falls, which falls 30 metres into a large pool.
The Cascade Creek then runs into a series of smaller falls within a deeply incised gorge as it drops an additional 18 metres to the valley floor to where it empties into Stave Lake.
"It is quite a magnificent falls," said Jennifer Kinneman, manager of communications for the Fraser Valley Regional District.
"This is just going to make it that much more beautiful."
She explained that the bulk of the project's funding comes from Innergex, an independent renewable power producer.
The Fraser Valley Regional District board of directors was pitched the idea for the improvements in May 2012, with Innergex promising $225,000 for the project.
For this reason, the project will also include instructional signage on hydroelectricity.
Innergex has nine proposed and operating power plants on creeks leading into Harrison and Stave lakes.
Since then, FVRD has invested about $90,000 on paving the existing Cascade Falls parking lot and upgrading the toilet facilities and signage.
The district will spend another $57,500 on trail and stair upgrades leading up to the new bridge.
BC Hydro is also kicking in $5,000 towards the project.
The majority of the woodwork is complete as well as the anchors, columns and abutments for the bridge.
Kinneman said she expects the bridge to open in September.