2023 Award of Excellence

Baxter Bridge Rehabilitation – A Community Lifeline Restored

Owner: BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure  |  Enderby, BC


About the Project

Baxter Bridge across the Shuswap River in the North Okanagan area is a timber Howe Truss bridge built in the 1950’s. It is a crucial link for the local community, tourists, and dairy farms. Over the years, the bridge has undergone a patchwork of repairs, resulting in intermittent closures. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure intends to replace it with a new two-lane structure when construction funding becomes available.

In May 2021, Associated Engineering carried out an enhanced bridge inspection, and observed severe decay in the pier piles, truss, diagonals, counters, and portals. Due to safety concerns, bridge capacity was downrated by 50% to 25 tonnes gross vehicle weight. These restrictions caused significant hardship on the local community, including blocking emergency response vehicles crucially during the wildfire season. The long detour also affected the dairy farms, as the unpasteurized milk could be spoilt with the longer travel time needed to reach the Kamloops processing facility. Associated Engineering was tasked to design and oversee the construction of the emergency repair works to reinstate this lifeline to the local community and businesses.

Associated responded immediately and designed rehabilitation works within a record time of six weeks. Our innovative design to strengthen the existing portal frame with a steel U-frame eliminated the need for portal bracing. This repair solution addressed truss stability and prevented further racking of the truss system. Major construction works were completed in 16 weeks, allowing the bridge to operate at full capacity, meeting the requirements for milk trucks and emergency vehicles. Miscellaneous minor works continued without need for traffic management. The rehabilitated and improved bridge will also stand in as the detour route for construction of the replacement bridge. This iconic character bridge remains in service and is a local landmark until a modern replacement is constructed.


The Baxter Bridge emergency repairs ensured continued safety for bridge users while preparatory activities for a replacement took place. Works were carried out in small packages to minimize road closures. Planning of the works was extremely complicated; the team developed a construction staging and traffic management plan that limited closures, sometimes down to 20 minutes a session during peak times, to allow intermittent vehicle traffic. Scheduled opening times were communicated in advance to the public through the DriveBC app, posted locally, and shown on changeable message signs on the road and bridge site.

The Shuswap River is a sensitive aquatic habitat. Grouted steel jackets around the existing decayed timber piles were installed manually, segment-by-segment, ensuring absolute water tightness. The team obtained environmental permitting under the emergency process by implementing best management practices for construction methodology and sequencing, significantly expediting the project.

Timber and steel required for the repair works were sourced locally. The community also provided areas for storage and access during construction and supplied personnel for traffic control. The team pivoted quickly to deal with absentee issues due to the COVID19 pandemic and wildfire season. Through the collaborative efforts of the project team, the Ministry, the contractor, and the local community, the project was a success and the bridge was fully re-opened within record time.


Associated Engineering mobilized rapidly. Using an innovative design of a steel U-frame to strengthen the portal frame enabled repair works to be carried out within an extremely short time. The rehabilitation works were cost effective and utilized local steel, timber and labour. Repair works ensured zero environmental impact by enclosing all works and using barges for access. Work packages were grouped and scheduled to accommodate local traffic requirements and to curtail bridge closures.

Service(s) Provided
– Bridge close proximity inspection
– Howe truss analysis, load rating
– Pile repair design and repair methodology
– Replacement design and procedures for replacement of truss diagonals and counters
– Strengthening of truss end diagonals with steel under deck frame
– Engineering services during construction
– Environmental assessment, permitting and construction monitoring

Project Team (Consultants)
Associated Environmental Consultants

Project Team (Contractors)
Baird Bros 
Armstrong Machine Shop 
Enderby Storage Yard 


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