Test shows Kinsol can be saved

The initial part of the first phase of the Kinsol Trestle is complete and surveyors said they now firmly believe the old wooden structure can be saved.

I think the good news is there weren’t any surprises, said Gordon Macdonald, of Cobble Hill’s Macdonald & Lawrence Framing Ltd., a firm that has worked on world heritage sites on three different continents.

The more we look at the structure, the more confident I am that preserving it is a good and appropriate solution.

Macdonald & Lawrence is the local component of a Vancouver-based firm that is conducting an examination of the old wooden bridge.

Commonwealth Historic Resource Management Ltd. (CHRM) beat out two other Vancouver-area tenders to win the $40,000 contract to look at the feasibility of restoring the historic trestle, rather than tearing it down to build a replica.

The onsite work was completed last week, now it’s a matter of gathering all the data and sharing that information with the rest of the team.

We found it was better than expected, Macdonald said.

He and his crew drilled hundreds of bores and took dozens of core samples from the bridge during the four or five days they were on it.

There’s plenty of decay there, of course, said Macdonald of the 86-year-old bridge.

We were looking at really important parts of the bridge, such as the Howe trusses, and had a really intensive look at them.

We physically inspected every single cross-section, every frame, we dropped ropes down each bay and took inventory of what was there, what was missing, what was rotted and what was not and the information was very positive.

In a presentation earlier this year, Macdonald said the trestle can be restored by the summer of 2009 for about $4 million — less than the $4.8 to $6 million estimated as costs for demolition and reproduction of the 614-feet long, 145-feet high wooden trestle that saw the last train cross it in 1979.

Macdonald said now there’s no question the trestle can be repaired, particularly to service a pedestrian/equestrian bridge.

There’s an enormous redundancy in the bridge because it’s built for trains and it doesn’t have to do that anymore, he said.

Macdonald and Lawrence must now gather all the data from the inspection of the bridge and then turn it over to the structural engineers who will analyze the information.

The findings will be presented to the CVRD board in January.

Meanwhile historians and conservation consultants are putting together a statement of significance, with the help of B.C. Heritage, which looks at issues of what’s unique about the structure, and whether it has a heritage value which is significant for the whole country, said Macdonald.

The second phase of the plan will be to look at the exact methodology of repairing the trestle.

It would look at the details, such as exactly how much would (restoration) cost, and how long would it take, Macdonald said.

The CVRD will likely make a decision on whether or not to proceed to Phase Two early in the new year.

Read the rest of the article at Cowichan News Leader

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