Busy construction season impacting bike lane costs

The only bid to construct the Pandora Avenue two-way bike lane project has come in higher than anticipated.

The only bid to construct the Pandora Avenue two-way bike lane project has come in higher than anticipated, but the city is sticking to its original design plans in order to get Biketoria rolling.

In June, the city put out a request for bids and extended the original July 5 deadline by three weeks to provide the construction industry more time to complete submissions. By July 26, however, only one bid of $3,23 million had been received from Brunnell Construction Ltd., exceeding the city’s initial cost estimate.

Since that time, the city has secured $890,492 in funding from BikeBC for the project, increasing the total available funding to $2.98 million. Additional funding could also be used from the Gas Tax Reserve, according to a city report.

City staff originally pegged the project at an estimated $2.06 million when it appeared before council in April. That number was adjusted to $2.99 million in June following the release of the tender.

After receiving the bid from Brunnell, city staff looked at alternative options, such as redesigning the project to reduce costs and re-tendering, but noted any delay would cascade to the other proposed bike projects and doesn’t necessarily guarantee a lower price tag.

City manager Jason Johnson said a red hot construction market is to blame.

“We have few bidders and that’s just indicative of what’s out there in the construction industry right now,” said Johnson, noting the construction industry generally likes to have projects go out earlier in the year.

“We’re going to put more rigour behind our estimates coming forward.”

During a meeting last week, some councillors expressed concern about the cost of the bid, but were hesitant to further delay the project to see if the price would go down. Construction on the 1.2-kilometre Pandora bike lane was originally slated to begin in January, but now crews hope to have it finished before the end of November.

“I think we need to move forward with Biketoria implementation. For that reason I can sort of swallow this pill,” said Coun. Ben Isitt, noting the immediate need for safe biking facilities in the city.

“We needed those five years ago and we don’t want one more cyclist to die in this city because of a collision with a motor vehicle.”

The Pandora Avenue bike lane would run along the north side of Pandora Avenue between Store Street and Cook Street, becoming the city’s first fully protected bike facility. It’s also the first of the five corridors slated for phase one of Biketoria — a network of eight bike corridors stretching 24 kilometres that connects neighbourhoods and urban villages in the downtown core.

With a budget of $7.75 million, the cycling network will be implemented over four phases. Designs for the second part of phase one along Fort Street (Wharf Street to Cook Street) are already underway.

As for protected bike lanes, the city is focused on building a minimum grid of 5.4 km in the downtown core by the end of 2018. The grid consists of five corridors, including Pandora Avenue. For more information on the project visit victoria.ca.