It’s going to take approximately $20,000 and a few more days to fix Princeton’s Brown Bridge, according to municipal infrastructure director Jamie Umpleby. But there’s no telling how long it will take to repair the feelings of some residents, following a series of racist posts that appeared on local Facebook groups after an accident damaged the bridge two weeks ago. “As soon as the pictures of the driver were posted it just blew up,” said Heather King, who administers the group Princeton and Area Issues.
“I was shocked. It wasn’t even surprise, it was shock.”
King removed at least two dozen offending comments from the group, which has 3,462 members. “I wasn’t really counting I was just deleting as fast as I could.”
King said many of the comments had little to do with the damage to the bridge, but instead were based on the driver’s appearance. “I don’t remember word for word, but they were telling him to go back where he came from, and things about letting ‘those’ people into our country and allowing them to drive on our roads.” And some of those commenters were known to King.
“I wouldn’t have expected words like that to come out of their mouths…It was sad. Once my head stopped spinning it was sad to see them.” The whole business started on a Friday afternoon, when a transport truck driver attempted to cross the historic, one-lane wooden bridge.
The truck shifted a number of supports, and the bridge will be closed until at least this weekend, according to Umpleby. The town has already opened a claim with the trucking company’s insurance company, he said.
The driver was charged under the Motor Vehicle Act with disobeying a traffic control device and exceeding weight restrictions. The eventual fate of the iconic bridge – built in the 1930s and one of the last of its kind still in use in BC – is still unknown.
Last year engineers advised the municipality the structure is nearing the end of its life, and councillors have requested a meeting with the minister of transportation and infrastructure to discuss funding for replacement options.