The old Franklin River Bridge on the third stage of the Alberni Inlet Trail was spotted collapsed on June 13 by trail maintenance volunteers. The fallen deck part has since drifted off and grounded farther down the river.

The old Franklin River Bridge on the third stage of the Alberni Inlet Trail was spotted collapsed on June 13 by trail maintenance volunteers. The fallen deck part has since drifted off and grounded farther down the river.

ACRD looks at improvements to Alberni Inlet Trail, Maplehurst Park

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District will be using COVID-19 restart funding for both projects

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) is planning to use some of its provincial COVID-19 restart grant funding to improve trail systems in the Alberni Valley.

During a Wednesday, May 26 board meeting, the ACRD board voted to add an expansion and bridge replacement for the Alberni Inlet Trail to the work plan and budget for 2022.

The Alberni Inlet Trail consists of three phases. Phase 2 ends at Franklin River, where an historical bridge has collapsed. Volunteers from the community have constructed Phase 3, which runs from Franklin River to Headquarters Bay.

Michael McGregor, the ACRD’s lands and resources coordinator, explained that the ACRD wants to replace this bridge and ensure that Phase 3 meets the minimum trail standard required for the ACRD. Although there may be other capital improvements required, the major cost related to Phase 3 is the construction of the Franklin River bridge. The cost is currently unknown, said McGregor.

ACRD staff would be spending $18,000 to engage an engineer to complete a design and cost estimate for the construction of the bridge.

READ MORE: PAC RIM ACTIVE: Alberni Inlet Trail still a work in progress

READ MORE: PAC RIM ACTIVE: Hiking the Alberni Inlet Trail

The Alberni Valley Outdoor Club has offered to contribute $2,000 towards this engineering study, and Alberni Valley resident Lyman Jardin has offered to match this amount. The ACRD also has $8,500 of previously donated funds. McGregor said these donations can be used for the engineering study, or can be used for construction costs.

“Then we’d come back with some options for how to fund the bridge itself,” he said.

The ACRD is also looking at expanding Maplehurst Park, which is accessed off Willow Road near the border of Cherry Creek and Beaver Creek.

READ: Alberni Valley rallies in support of Maplehurst trail network

McGregor explained that the park has seen a “substantial” increase in use over the past year, and the ACRD is now looking into infrastructure upgrades—including a parking lot off of Kitsuksis Road.

Beaver Creek director John McNabb said that an “impromptu” parking lot has formed on Willow Road, which has led to some congestion.

“That road is a narrow, residential road with ditches on both sides,” said McNabb. “People are parking in people’s driveways, double-parking and parking in the ditch—it’s a zoo.”

The ACRD will use $20,000 from its COVID-19 restart funding to create a management plan, which will include some public consultation and will determine how much it costs to upgrade the park.

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