Victoria's historic bridge will be replaced

0 860 Infrastructure

by Richard Gilbert last update:Oct 2, 2014

PCL Constructors Westcoast has been awarded a $63 million fixed-price contract by the City of Victoria, B.C. for the construction of the new Johnson Street Bridge.
The new Johnson Street Bridge is schedule for completion in March 2016. PC Constructors Westcoast the general contractor.
The new Johnson Street Bridge is schedule for completion in March 2016. PC Constructors Westcoast the general contractor. - Photo: City of Victoria


“This is an important milestone in the life of this project,” noted Mayor Dean Fortin.

“This fixed price contract meets the design, project budget and timelines, and allows us to move forward with confidence on a project that will vastly improve cycling, walking and driving options to and from the downtown for generations.”

PCL was awarded the contract following a competitive process which included three teams each with a lead proponent and sub-contractors.

PCL will be working with MMM Group Ltd. which will act as project manager and prime consultant.

MMM Group has been the primary engineering consultant since 2009 and will continue to provide all professional engineering services through to the completion of the project.

The three shortlisted teams were led by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co. and WCC Construction Canada, ULC respectively.

During the procurement process, proponents were invited to propose measures that could reduce costs or risks, and minimize impacts during construction.

The fixed price contract includes the following six design features based on the input of all three firms.

Reducing the size of the east-side pier building, housing the bridge mechanism, and reduction of the size of the counterweight;

Using hydraulic motors, placed under the big wheels, to power the lift mechanism;

Simplifying the angled geometry of the west-side bridge pier;

Simplifying the tapering trusses of the bridge to require less welding;

Using concrete approach spans rather than steel; and

A concrete multi<0x2010>use trail overpass rather than steel.

The City of Victoria said these changes will help ensure that the contract is within the approved construction budget.

In December 2011, Victoria residents voted in favour of the city borrowing $50 million dollars to replace the 86-year-old Johnson Street Bridge, with a new rolling bascule bridge.

More than 16,000 residents voted in the referendum and it passed with 60 per cent voting in favour.

At the time, the bridge replacement was estimated to cost $77 million, which would have been the largest capital project in Victoria’s history.

City council later voted to increase the estimated cost of replacing the bridge to $92.8 million.

The Government of Canada is providing up to $37.5 million in funding, including $21 million from the Building Canada Fund and $16.5 million through Canada’s Gas Tax Fund.

The remaining bridge replacement costs are funded by the city through reallocated capital budgets and electoral approved borrowing.

According to the Times Colonist, two Victoria city councillors who voted against the deal, Lisa Helps and Ben Isitt, are concerned about the cost escalation.

They argue that the $2.8 million contingency fund is not large enough to cover potential risks.

This makes the contingency fund only 4.4 per cent of the construction budget, but 10-20 per cent is typical.

The Johnson Street Bridge project involves the construction of three vehicle lanes, on-road bike lanes, a multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists, and a pedestrian deck on the south side.

Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin this summer and generate about 900 jobs.

The project is expected to be fully completed by March 2016.

The contract includes decommissioning of the old bridge structure once the new bridge is complete.

It also includes the construction of improved road alignments and traffic calming features on both sides of the bridge, installation of a signal controlled intersection at Harbour and Esquimalt roads, widened sidewalks and pathways leading to the bridge with links to existing and future pathways and trails, public viewing and plazas areas on the east and west sides, and landscaping.

In addition, PCL will also build a retaining wall on the city’s adjacent property on Harbour Road to support an approach road beside the city-owned lot, which is outside the scope of the original contract.

The original Johnson Street Bridge has significant heritage value as its unique bascule bridge system was created by Joseph Strauss, one of the most famous bridge designers in the world.

The bridge was completed in 1924 at a cost of $918,000 and is one of the few bascule bridges left in North America.

If you would like to see building reports for the Johnson Street Bridge, please click here, here, and here.

last update:Oct 2, 2014

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