Bay Street bridge upgrades begin; eastbound lane closed until end of October

The Point Ellice Bridge, also known as the Bay Street bridge, is down to one lane for motor traffic for more than five months to allow upgrades to the structure.

Closure of the eastbound lane of traffic, coming into downtown Victoria, will continue until the end of October to accommodate work crews on the $6.1-million project.

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The closing, which started Tuesday morning, quickly changed traffic patterns, with congestion through much of the day on the Johnson Street Bridge’s eastbound lane and its approaches.

The process of closing Point Ellice Bridge began after 9 a.m. Tuesday with crews setting up signs on the streets leading to the bridge, said City of Victoria spokesman Sheldon Johnson. Full closure occurred at 10:40 a.m. The westbound lane into Vic West will remain open.

Pedestrian and wheelchair access is to be maintained along the north sidewalk — beside the westbound lane of traffic — during the project. Eastbound cyclists will have to dismount and walk. Bus service has been rerouted by B.C. Transit.

Victoria’s assistant director of transportation, Philip Bellefontaine, has said the refurbishment will add 30 years to the bridge’s life, meaning a short-term inconvenience for commuters and a long-term benefit for the infrastructure.

At times, the entire span will be closed, but the city said that will happen infrequently.

The work, being handled by Seismic 2000, includes repairs to the concrete deck, rust protection of the steel, resurfacing the bridge deck, and stripping and painting the steel on the underside of the bridge.

The existing Point Ellice Bridge superstructure was constructed in 1956-57 and received a seismic upgrade in 2001-2002. That work included reinforcement of the piers, replacement of bridge components and work to resurface the roadway across the bridge surface.

The city said several options for managing traffic were considered, but the one-lane closure was considered the most efficient.

The city will make changes to traffic signals at the Johnson Street Bridge to accommodate increased in traffic on that route. Tillicum Bridge is also expected to see increased traffic.

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