Array of items raises cost of Johnson Street bridge to $105 million

Victoria councillors are being asked to approve another $8.2 million for the Johnson Street Bridge project, bringing the latest cost estimate to $105.06 million — $42 million more than the original budget of $63 million.

But the final bill for the project is still not known as costs are yet to be determined for such things as putting fenders on the bridge piers and steel parts being fabricated in China that have been delayed by quality control problems.

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The additional funds being sought by project director Jonathan Huggett are for:

• cost overrun mediation settlement, $2.4 million

• contingency, $2.05 million

• electrical, construction materials and contaminated soil removal, $1.9 million

• support costs, $751,000

• insurance, $665,000

• legal costs, $375,000

The project completion date has been delayed again.

The new bridge is now expected to be open to traffic in December 2017, rather than July 2017.

It won’t be completed until March 31, 2018 — pushed back from November 2017.

Officials are saying the city dodged a bullet in mediation with its contractor PCL Constructors, design consultant MMM Group, and sub-consultant Hardesty Hanover, over cost overruns.

Of $27 million in claims filed against the city, it will be required to pay only $2.4 million, says Huggett’s report.

“I think it’s better news than anyone could have hoped for,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.

“Twenty-seven million dollars in claims against the city and the total amount we need to pay is $2.4 million. So our mediation team did a very good job.”

The additional costs will not have a tax impact as they are proposed to be drawn from the city’s building and infrastructure reserve, which has an unallocated balance of $36 million.

Helps said the bridge project, which has been plagued with problems from the outset, represents a classic example of “if you don’t set something up properly, it doesn’t roll out properly.”

Ross Crockford, of the watchdog group, wonders whether there are still issues left unresolved from the mediation process.

He noted that Huggett says the mediation agreement “involves all parties agreeing to waive all claims that are known or ought to be known as of the date of the settlement, except for the city’s claim in relation to the design of the fendering.”

“There are still some big bills that we don’t know about like the ultimate cost of the delay of the steel,” Crockford said.

“As they’ve said, we’re not going to know what that is until the steel is finally delivered. So there are still some big issues out there.”

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