The cost of the Johnson Street Bridge will be going up by $4.8 million if council approves a recommendation by staff.
A report from the director of engineering and public works, going to council on Thursday, outlines the additional funds are for increased costs due to schedule delays and additional legal costs for external legal advice and participation in mediation.
This increase would bring the budget for the bridge to $97.6 million. The original budget was estimated at $63 million.
Coun. Ben Isitt, said he will not be supporting the $4.8 million expense.
“I think the project has been subject to a lack of financial controls from the very outset, and I still don’t have enough certainty in what the end game looks like to be able to approve any additional allocation.”
Before he will consider approving the request, Isitt said questions still need to be answered regarding the seismic standard of the new bridge.
Mayor Lisa Helps said this request for more money is not a surprise.
“I voted against the budget originally, because I had a sense that the contingency budget was too small for such a large project at only 4 per cent.”
If approved, the total contingency would increase to 7.5 per cent.
Helps said she will be supporting the recommendation because she wants to keep the project moving forward.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s not really optional. If we vote against it, then we put the project at a standstill, and the project was already at a standstill for 15 months, so I’m not willing to do that again,” she said. “I think it’s really important to keep this project limping along, moving forward.”
She added the costs could still go up beyond this $4.8 million increase, because it does not include any of the change orders or requests for more money from MMM or PCL.
“Some of the $4.8 million that we’re being asked for may be recovered through mediation, but there may be additional costs to the city as part of the mediation process. We don’t know yet.”
The $4.8 million includes $400,000 in mediation and legal costs, $1.87 million for the contingency fund and $2.5 million in costs due to the delay of the project.
Staff is giving council two options for reducing costs by eliminating the public art, budgeted at $250,000, or the E&N Train Station, budgeted at $204,000.
Helps said she is not willing to look into the elimination of the rail station.
“I think sustainable transportation is the future of this city, this Island, this region. So I’m not willing to entertain that.”
However, she is open to eliminating the public art.
“In the best case scenario, sure, a quarter of a million dollars on public art is a good idea. In a project that’s over budget and potentially climbing, I’m not so sure.”