Kinsol Trestle Featured in CIVIL Magazine

In 2007, the Kinsol Trestle was scheduled for destruction in favour of a new bridge. Thanks to the efforts of locals and the expertise of Cascade Engineering Group (now ISL’s Structural–Buildings group) and Macdonald & Lawrence Timber Framing, the trestle was able to be saved and rehabilitated into the stunning pedestrian bridge you can see today.

The latest issue of Canadian Civil Engineer (CIVIL) magazine is organized around two main themes: bridges and sustainability. Not surprisingly, the work done by ISL’s Structural–Buildings group on the Kinsol Trestle caught their eye as it exemplifies both of these qualities.

Kinsol Trestle History

The Kinsol Trestle is located near Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, BC. Built in 1920 as part of Canadian Northern Railway’s route between Victoria and Nootka Sound, it was closed in 1980 and endured years of decay, vandalism and fire. In the late 1990s, portions of the old railway route were converted to a walking trail as part of the Trans-Canada Trail, but the Trail had to detour around the trestle because it was a safety hazard, adding a difficult 8.5 km loop around the Koksillah River.


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In 2007, the Kinsol Trestle was scheduled to be taken down to be replaced by a brand-new bridge to complete the Trail, but there was strong local support for the preservation and restoration of this historic structure. Macdonald & Lawrence Timber Framing and Cascade Engineering Group were enlisted to provide their expertise in the design and analysis of timber structures.

Project Challenges

The biggest challenge for this project was balancing the requirements of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI)’s Canadian Highway Bridge Code standards while also retaining enough of the historic timber to meet the standards and guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Some of the innovations that allowed this structure to retain 60 per cent of its historic timber include:

  • dividing the structure into “inactive” and “active” components, where the “inactive” portions are non-load bearing and the “active” portions are the main support structures—the “active” portions were fully reconstructed to comply with MOTI requirements
  • carrying out a detailed analysis of the over 6000 pieces of timber that comprise the trestle to ensure their structural stability and creating a 3D survey of the existing conditions using resistograph testing
  • bridging the active sections with under-slung steel trusses for further support and blending the new construction with the heritage aspects, ensuring that the rehabilitated bridge looks the same as the original structure from the underside of the pedestrian bridge down.

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Grand Re-opening

The rehabilitated Kinsol Trestle was officially reopened on July 28, 2011, to many accolades from peers and gasps of wonder from the general public. Media interest in this event was significant, garnering coverage from television outlets, newspapers and online blogs.

Three years later, the Kinsol Trestle continues to impress. The project was recognized with a 2013 CEA Showcase Award of Merit for Transportation Infrastructure, a 2012 Heritage BC Award for Outstanding Achievement, and a 2012 Wood Works! BC Wood First Award, among others.


Read the full magazine here (Kinsol Trestle article on page 12–13)  


About Canadian Civil Engineer Magazine

Canadian Civil Engineer magazine is published by the CSCE five times per year and is produced by the publishers of Canadian Consulting Engineer Magazine. The CSCE was created to develop and maintain high standards of civil engineering practices in Canada and to enhance the public image of the civil engineering profession. They are based out of Westmount, Quebec.

For more about the Kinsol Trestle



See our project profile

March 28, 2014

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