The crumbling Kinsol trestle can be restored to its original glory for less than it would cost to demolish it and build a replica, says a team that specializes in restoring historic timber structures.
A plan to save the 86-year-old trestle has been put together by an international team of experts. Jack Peake, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said he is calling a meeting of the regional board, provincial government representatives and other stakeholders as soon as possible.
This seems like the best win-win situation I have heard about in a while,Peake said.
Team leader Gordon Macdonald of Cobble Hill's Macdonald and Lawrence Timber Framing Ltd., which has worked on projects such as Windsor Castle and Sir Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Hut in Antarctica, said there is no doubt the trestle can be saved.
It could be restored by late summer 2009 for a cost of $4 million, he said.
Debra Brash, Times Colonist
The CVRD decided in December that a cheaper version of the trestle should be built, at a cost of between $4.2 million and $4.5 million.
We have spent quite a lot of time getting to know the structure, and we've taken advice from some of the world's leading experts in timber conservation,Macdonald said.
Under current plans, the province has pledged $1.5 million to dismantle the 187-metre-long trestle that spans the Koksilah River, and another $1.6 million to build a new bridge.
The CVRD decided in December that a cheaper version of the trestle should be built, at a cost of between $4.2 million and $4.5 million. However, the district was also mulling over the possibility of fundraising to build an exact replica at a cost of $6 million.
A study showed the 44 metre-high span was in danger of collapsing, but community groups insisted the trestle could be saved and fought against destruction of such a vital symbol of Vancouver Island's history.
They were right, Macdonald said.
There is absolutely no question that the Kinsol is an important part of our architectural heritage. This structure is an outstanding example of a time in our province's history when there was no scheme too grand and no project so massive that it could not be completed with hard work and ingenuity,he said.
The foundations, abutments and weight-bearing trusses are in good condition and can be kept, Macdonald said.
The exterior bracing is hanging all over the place and looks dreadful, but that was designed to be replaced.
Under his plan, restoration would start from both ends, meeting in the middle.
Planning would take six to eight months, peer review of the plans another two or three months. The project would take up to 18 months to build, probably employing about 20 people, Macdonald said.
Peake said, if the province and the regional board accept the plan, donations of cash and goods will be sought to make up the missing $900,000.
Perhaps the forest industry could contribute a few truckloads of logs,he said.
The Kinsol, highest trestle in the British Commonwealth, was last crossed by a train in 1979. The trestle and right-of-way were transferred to the province in 1986.