Historic Ross River bridge to be demolished in March

The Yukon Government says it's proceeding with plans to tear down a 70 year old wooden foot bridge, despite multiple efforts by people who wanted to save a piece of Yukon history.

‘Nothing is meant to last forever,’ says Harvey Brooks of the Yukon Government

A view of the 70-year-old suspension bridge across the Pelly River at Ross River, Yukon. The pedestrian bridge is a relic of the American military oil pipeline built during WWII. Due to safety concerns, it's due to be demolished next month. (courtesy of Barry Kulan)

Yukon residents launched an 11th hour campaign to save the longest single-span suspension bridge in Canada and the U.S. last week. 

A Facebook group was started, and over 300 people have indicated their support to preserve the historic wooden bridge over the Pelly River.

But those efforts haven’t swayed the Yukon Government.

It's proceeding with plans to tear down the bridge in just a few weeks.

“It’s a 70-year-old structure, nothing is meant to last forever” says Harvey Brooks, deputy minister of community services.

Brooks says the government understands the bridge has great sentimental value to people in Ross River, but he says there is no way to make the structure safe.

“We don't have the original designs of the bridge, we don't know the original construction specifications, the underground components are a mystery, and it's at end of life."    

The suspension bridge is a relic of the American military.

It was built in 1942 as part of a WWII scheme to pipe oil from Norman Wells, N.W.T. to a refinery in Whitehorse. The refinery was shuttered shortly afterwards.

For years, people in the community of Ross River relied on the bridge at night when the ferry was closed. Then in the fall of 2012, the Yukon Government closed the bridge due to safety concerns.

When a government report recommended demolishing the bridge, one Whitehorse engineer called it “an engineering treasure” and argued it should be saved as a heritage piece and a tourist attraction.

In December 2013, a petition to save the bridge led to a second government study, which also called for demolition

Steel towers to remain

Brooks says the government has received several tenders to demolish the wooden decking and the cabling that's holding it up.

All that will remain of the bridge will be the steel towers at either end.

Brooks says once the bridge is down, the government can then consider what, if anything, should take its place.

The bridge is expected to be torn down sometime in mid-March.