Craigflower bridge could be closed to traffic in as little as two weeks now that Saanich and View Royal have awarded the contract to replace it.
Don Mann Excavating Ltd. has been awarded the contract to replace the 80-year-old timber-beam bridge at a cost of $15.89 million — about $2.2 million more than anticipated.
Under the terms of the contract, the contractor has control of the bridge from April 1 to Dec. 31, said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. That doesn’t necessarily mean the bridge will be shut April 1. In fact, the municipality is hoping a traffic plan might see the closing pushed back a bit.
“One of the first things they have to give us is a traffic plan,” Leonard said.
“Our staff intend to talk to them because what’s happening April, May and June is [installation of] pilings and such, before you remove the existing bridge. So we want to talk to them about the traffic plan and, obviously, find out how much further it can be delayed.”
Closing the bridge is expected to effect travelling times for West Shore commuters and businesses, especially those in View Royal that are dependent on drive-by traffic. The public was consulted before a decision was made on how to proceed with the replacement.
“Ourselves and View Royal discussed, particularly with the business community in View Royal, which was the better [option]: to have a long, drawn-out construction time, in which you’d have a partial closure, or … a shorter construction time and a total closure,” Leonard said. “The consensus was to have a total closure but done over just a few months as opposed to a couple of years.”
The project will see the geriatric bridge replaced with a three-lane structure complete with bike lanes and pedestrian access. A temporary foot bridge is to be built to provide access during construction.
Under the agreement signed by the two municipalities, the bridge work will cost $13.2 million. Saanich has also agreed to reconstruct Admirals Road north of Gorge Road at a cost of about $2 million.
The $2.2-million bridge costs that are more than was anticipated are mostly for below-surface costs for dams and pilings, Leonard said.
“Obviously, we would have preferred it to be less. But for context, we’ve got 83 per cent of this project funded mostly by gas tax. There’s $10.7 million in gas tax funding and $250,000 from ICBC on the bridge part,” Leonard said.
Additional costs — which include contingency funds — have View Royal turning over every rock looking for money, said Mayor Graham Hill, adding that every other View Royal capital project is now on hold.
“It’s a huge hit. We don’t have either the revenue source capacity that Saanich has nor do we have the in-progress works that Saanich has,” Hill said.
“So what it means for us is that we have to scrounge money from every corner. We have to pillage our resources and budgets to make this work.”
Hill said that, after all the offsetting grants are factored in, his municipality still needs to find $130,000 — equivalent to a tax increase of about 2.5 per cent.
“What we’re going to have to try to do is find economies within our own budget to minimize that.”
Leonard said Saanich will find the additional money through reallocating funds from other capital projects.
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